Forty Years of Running: Less Than Ten Injuries. How?
Efficiency and grace.
Efficiency plus grace equals bullet-proof? Here are four ways to safeguard your running without wearing kevlar:
- Improve your alliance with gravity
- Educate your core
- Soft, supple and sensitive feet
- Pound less pavement
(For more on these four, see “Bulletproofing Methods” just below)
Is Running Your “Drug of Choice”?
If running is a vital lifeline for you like it is for me, you have to minimize your risk of injury. Along with these four tips, there are specific key skills to running that are quite subtle, yet very profound and absolutely essential to lifelong running. I have discovered and developed these over my decades of ultra running. I’ve created methods for teaching them through my extensive experience as a technique coach. Bring them all together and you:
- Run with your whole body
- Minimize ground time and maximize flight time
Improve Your Alliance with Gravity
Among endurance sports, running is notorious for injuries. Why? Impact: We get injured when we hit the ground. We blame it on gravity. And yet…
If we forge an alliance with gravity, we transform that enemy of impact into the force of propulsion. Efficient running technique begins with this partnership. It’s the foundation. In The Running Lab, you will learn a sequence of drills and running exercises to forge your personal alliance.
We translate the (vertical) pull of gravity into (horizontal) forward movement. I call this alliance “Effortless Power”.
Educate Your Core
The primary source of lower joint running injuries (foot, ankle and knee) is a poorly trained and uneducated core. By “core” I mean your whole torso:
- Pelvic girdle
- Pectoral girdle* (See below)
- Matrix of nerves, muscles and connective tissues from your shoulders to your hips that connect these two girdles together
“Core work” is not about six-pack abs. Read that heading again: “Educate Your Core”. Muscular strength is only part of a bulletproof core. Design and implement a regimen of exercises that educate your core to be articulate and responsive to all of the forces you encounter as you run – vertical, lateral, fore-aft, rotational. Stop forcing your feet, ankles and knees to compensate for poor core function and instability.
Education is neural. Along with muscle and connective tissue strength, your core education targets neural training. This is the path to kinetic intelligence.
* Yes, your pectoral girdle: Your shoulders, scapulae, upper spine and neck are critical to efficient whole-body running. They comprise your “Swing Set”. In the Running Lab, we focus first on creating a stable Swing Set.
Let Your Feet and Ankles be Supple and Sensitive
Look at your feet and ankles:
- Feet: Many small joints, with very little muscle mass.
- Ankles: Two highly articulate joints that move in every plane, again with very little muscle.
Let’s be honest here: Each foot and ankle is a sensitive and articulate instrument. It is not designed to stabilize the towering hulk of mass that looms and teeters above it.
Your feet and ankles excel at three things when you run:
- Respond as a supple and highly articulate suspension system to cushion your ground contact
- Interface each foot contact with constantly varying surface conditions such as pitch, camber, terrain
- Provide instant sensory information to your hips and pelvis so that you can stabilize from your core
When your core is educated, your feet and ankles can perform brilliantly. Stop forcing them to be stabilizers. And stop trying to protect these instruments with rigid tension, or with shoes that restrict their articulation or muffle their sensitivity. Let them dance when you run.
Pound Less Pavement
Vary the terrain you run. Let your body train and articulate its agility by responding to a constantly changing running surface. Mixed terrain running is the most effective way to improve your running craft: PAGES running strides for all conditions.
Explore PAGES in Book One of the Kaizen-durance Series