No, this isn’t a political post and has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. Although, really, folks? Am I the only one who had the squick button pushed everytime I heard “Feel the Bern?” Ick, no! I don’t want to feel him. Go away.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, on with the show!
Over the last year, I’ve been working to get back into running shape, analyzing my technique, what’s working and especially what’s not working. And dieting.
And did you know one of those large bags of salad in the grocery store is considered a SINGLE serving? I know it’s only 5 ounces, but lordamighty, who can eat that much vegetation in one sitting? One of those bags will last me 2-1/2 days. I put a few handfuls in a Tupperware, then add fat free dressing, a little cheese (maybe a tablespoon or two), and maybe six croutons, and that’s my lunch. I’m satisfied. I can’t imagine trying to eat the whole bag.
Sorry. I digressed. Where was I? Oh, right, learning about, and adapting new techniques to my run.
I’ve changed my stride length, for instance. As a much younger runner, I thought to run fast you had to stretch your legs as far out in front of you as you could reach. Since I never ran track or Cross country in high school, I was never coached and I’ve had to learn as I go. What worked in a resilient and flexible 20-something body doesn’t in a none-of-your-business-how-old-somethjng body.
So over the year, I’ve shortened my stride and in the process went from an extreme heel striker to a mix between slight heel strike and midfoot striker. So instead of landing far out in front of my body, I’m now landing almost directly underneath my body.
Tuesday I decided to experiment again with foot strike. I was going to try to run on the balls of my feet.
I started at a slower pace, just to get used to it, then slowly increased my tempo as I stayed up on the balls of my feet, not letting my heel make any contact with the surface.
I’ve tried this once or twice over the past year and I would just give up after a few steps. It just didn’t feel right. Almost unnatural. Maybe I wasn’t anywhere near in shape enough (read: way too heavy), but thise previous attempts were labeled as Fail and I figured it just wasn’t for me. After all, we’re all different and what works for one doesn’t work for all.
But this time out, I was determined and was able to stay up on the balls of my feet for a good long while (for me), much longer than I’ve ever attempted.
And it didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable. It felt pretty good, as a matter of fact. There definitely seemed to be less shock when I landed than during my normal foot fall.
So how long did I run on the balls of my feet? Sixteen minutes. That’s about when I started tiring and got sloppy in the execution of my landings. My calves were burning and I had to revert back to midfoot landing for the rest of the run.
When I finished, my lower legs were more tired than normal.
And today? My calves are stiff and sore has Hell. It’s like I’ve never used my calves before.
Which means I will continue to run on the balls of my feet. It did feel good and if it means I’m working my calves and maybe they’ll start to grow and get ripped and I’ll finally have the muscular calves I’ve always wanted, then the burn is worth it.
Run. Burn. Ouch.