I recently read an article purporting to debunk several running myths. That article is here.
Now I don’t know how evidence-based the debunking truly is, and by that I mean if the sampling size was large enough to realistically support their conclusions, but since they agree with my own beliefs I’ll accept them, and really, isn’t that how Americans operate? Look at the current election: People gravitate toward news sources that reinforce their own opinions, right or wrong, instead of challenging those beliefs in an effort to find the truth.
In this instance, I’m more than happy to point at the myth of heel striking and say, “Nanny nanny boo boo. I told you so!” Because it isn’t landing on your heel that causes the injuries, it’s about where your heel is when it does land. In other words, as the article says, it’s about overstriding, how far in front of you your leg is stretched when you do land on your heel.
The myth is that landing on your heel shocks your body and actually stops you for an instant. And I’ve maintained that it doesn’t, because no one lands with their leg hyperextended and their knee locked. We land with our knee bent, just like midfoot or forefoot runners do. We just touch down on our heel first before the rest of the foot strikes.
I’ve been trying to run landing on my midfoot or forefoot, but that just seems like I’m running tippy-toed. Not natural and I tire much more easily.
Starting out or running a sprint, I’ll be on my toes, but once I hit cruising speed, then I start to heel strike.
Whereas the current fad says ideally your foot should be under you as you land, mine is slightly forward. Not by much. Certainly not in the sense of overstriding. And I’m certainly not striking at the back edge of the heel the way they often illustrate it; I land flat on the heel.
So there. Take your silly fad and shove it. And that goes double for those barefoot runners who say you can’t heel strike barefoot. Bullshit. Again it has to do with the length of your stride and where on the heel you’re lamding.
The other myth they talk about that I found interesting was about running in the wrong shoes and how there is no evidence to show that buying running shoes based on over- or under-pronation or good or flat arches helps prevent injuries.
Which to me, is good news. I have been told I have fairly flat arches and over-pronate (my foot rolls inward) and that I should get a shoe with a lot of stability to prevent my foot from rolling. So I have bought motion control shoes based solely on that advice. The Brooks Beast that I only ran in a couple times and used mostly for walking and most recently the Brooks Adrenaline GTS16.
The problem I found with these shoes is they are not comfortable to run in. There is no flex because it’s made to prevent flex. Plus, they feel heavy. And even after taking out the arch support insert the store also sold me, I still wasn’t happy with them. It is like running in wooden shoes: No give.
Then I switched to a pair of neutral Saucony Grid Cohesion 9 and immediately suffered a thigh injury which I wrongly attributed to the shoe.
But it wasn’t the shoe’s fault. I didn’t overpronate myself into an injury, I had overtrained and simply ran too hard, causing the flare-up in my thigh/IT band. The injury had been in the making and switching to the Saucony was mere coicidence.
In fact, my last few runs, on the treadmill and outside, have been on a newly purchased completely neutral shoe not designed for “heel strikers,” and to be honest, they’ve felt great.
So yes, the advice from the article is to buy shoes that feel good, that are comfortable on the run, because there is no evidence supportive shoes help prevent injury.
And lastly, (I won’t bother addressing pre- and post-run stretching since I know it benefits me personally and here we go back to the “‘murica! I’ll believe what fits my world view and dismiss the rest”), they address the myth of 180 steps per minute.
Basically, it reiterates what I had questioned and that is 180 spm only works at a certain pace. It only applies to a certain speed (which for me is about 8 mph) and is pretty silly to attempt it at much slower speeds. So why even bother counting? Your step per minute pace is whatever you are comfortable with. It naturally increases as you run faster and decreases as you go slower.
So there. These myths show us one thing. Don’t analyze things too much because what they tell you to do today, isn’t what they told you yesterday, and wont be what they tell you tomorrow.
Run. Enjoy. Live for today.