Everyone thinks they know how to run. People read books and study how to do lots of things but running is one that most people think you are just born doing right. I don’t believe this is the case. I think there is actually an optimal way to run which helps both in energy conservation and injury prevention. Repeatedly running with poor form can and does lead to numerous injuries. Especially as you age. Any mistakes you may have gotten away with while running as a youngster are amplified with older age.
When I returned to running after many years off, I began to experience knee pain. It was the very common Patellofemoral syndrome, more commonly called PFS or just runner’s knee, I diagnosed myself as usual. During my self diagnosing procedure (read scouring the internet looking for similar symptoms), I stumbled across many references to the pain being related to poor running form. Until that day, I had always assumed like most people, that you just know how to do it. I mean its just one foot in front of the other, right? I believed, like most people, if it always hurts something is probably broken or just worn out because I’m old. I no longer believe this is the case.
I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details as it is far too easy to go overboard and throw far too much jargon out there unless you are a running nerd like I am. But safe to say, there is a healthier way that your body was designed to run. One that is easier on your body that will allow you to fun faster, longer and injury free. My first real resource was the book Chi Running. These days there are numerous resources out there and most are teaching the same principles. This website has some good information: Good Form Running. I love to talk about the subject but can see people’s eyes gloss over shortly after the conversation begins so now I just wait for them to ask for advice.
Even after years of studying and practicing good form though, I still have times where I get lazy or just zone out and forget about what I’m doing. Sure enough the old pain and discomfort in my knee returns. Once I recognize what I am doing, I adjust my body and foot strike and the pain slips away. Don’t be fooled by the latest advertisements for super-cushioned shoes. Joint comfort has zero to do with the amount of padding underfoot and everything to do with posture, cadence, stride length and foot strike. I do all my running in very minimal shoes and several miles per week completely barefoot. If you are experiencing pains when you run, it’s probably not your shoes. Do some reading and your body will thank you.
Week of April 11 – Bike 80, Run 33, D 10, U 5