Monday, September 08, 2008

Ah, squishy cannibalism...The best kind!

Having been friends with Danielle for about 5 years now, I sometimes worry that I'm not hardcore enough to roll with her, and I'll end up being ditched or otherwise left in the dust as she moves on to more awesome friends. So, in an effort to up my hardcoreness quotient, I decided to do my 18 miler this morning and then go to work afterwards. I got up at 5 a.m., and did 18 miles in 3:10, then came home, showered, shaved, and went straight to work. I very much enjoyed fielding "Why are you late today?" questions all day, so I could respond, "Yeah, sorry, I had to run 18 miles this morning." I'm a rock star.

I was worried about my knee, but just wanted to do as much as I could. Around an hour in, my calves started tightening up really badly. I should note here that I am a toe runner, for anyone who's not seen me run before. My background is 30 years of soccer, only getting into running about 5 or 6 years ago, and only getting into distance (10 mi or greater) in the last two years. The toe running had never been an issue before, other than the soles of my shoes wearing out in funny places.

So anywho, with my calves hurting, I decided on a whim to try a heel strike stride. It immediately alleviated the pain in my calves, which was good. It was kind of awkward because I've never run this way for any long amount of time, so I sort of kept switching back and forth between my regular stride and the heel strike one. In the middle of one of my regular stride stretches, my knee started twinging a little. But I found that the heel strike stopped that, too.

At the end of my run, I had no knee pain and no real tightness in my calves. I'm really happy about this. It'll take some practice to get comfortable with the new stride, but if it'll solve my issues, it's a small price to pay I guess.

When I got to work, I emailed Lauren (from MC200, who talked me into joining her for this marathon) to let her know how it went. I commented that the cafeteria at work wouldn't open for a while, I was hungry enough that I was considering killing one of the people who sit near me and eating them, and there was one in particular who is kind of...squishy...and is probably good eats. The title of this post is Lauren's response.


Al Dimond said...

When I was recovering from my ACL replacement a couple years ago my physical therapist told me I was walking wrong; I basically walked (and ran) like I was climbing a hill, landing flat-footed or on my toes and pushing myself off with my quads and calves.

It wasn't a fluke because of knee instability or muscle weakness. It's how I'd transported myself for my whole life. I finally understood why I had always been a great uphill and awful downhill runner, why I naturally jumped up on short barriers that other runners went around (like steam-tunnel vents on the sidewalks of Champaign), and why Chris the Toymaker always said I ran like Super Mario.

I think you'll love heel-striking. You'll still have to work to stay smooth and pay attention to what gets tight, of course; otherwise you're just pushing repetitive-stress injuries around the plate, so to speak. But my result was running a 5k almost as fast as my best high-school times on less than half the weekly mileage I ran back then (and with a much shorter training season). I feel so much smoother and more efficient. Watch out for your hamstrings as you transition; mine were very underdeveloped and I wound up with weird pains in my butt and hamstring tendons, especially after running hills. Never had that problem again after a month of focused strength training.

Danielle in Iowa said...

Eh, considering my long runs are still in the 7 mile zone, you are kicking my butt in the badass category!

Joe said...

al: yes, i am pretty much exactly as you described -- good on uphills, crappy on downhills, tons of bounce in my stride, etc. and at the end of yesterday's run, my left hamstring was sore, but some stretching and a couple motrin took care of that and it feels fine today, so it's just weakness from lack of use.

danielle: yeah, i know i'm awesomer than you, i figured i'd pretend to be nice. but if we're not doing that, then hell yes, i'm going to destroy you in two weeks. come get some!