March 1, I started a journey to become a Healthier Me. I set a goal to run the Fishers Freedom Festival 5K. Achieving that goal meant changing my eating habits pretty drastically and before I knew it, my lifestyle had changed.
For those early months, I had an awesome routine and I felt great about it. I was eating clean, I was exercising my recommended 60 minutes per day, I was working my way through theCouch to 5K program. I dropped 2 clothing sizes and pretty much marveled at how my body was changing and strengthening.
After running my first 5K and getting so much out of that experience, I knew 2 things. 1. I needed a brief break from running. 2. I needed to learn more about how to run.
I took a solid 2 week break with no running. During that time, I spent a lot of time reading and researching running form and training methods. I picked up a couple of books about running-Chi Running and Run Like A Mother. I read Gordon Pirie’s Running Fast and Injury Free. I researched the Pose and Evolution methods of running. I started to learn a lot about minimalist and barefoot running. I remember posting here on FitCity when I saw a barefoot runner at theSubway Fun Run with Jared and now I wish I would have gone up and talked to him. I watchedvideo after video after video and was very excited to listen to a radio show on the subject.
I decided to change my running form. I wanted to be faster and I wanted to run in a more natural style (like kids run) and I wanted to run in such a way that would better prevent injury.
I started to really focus on how my foot hits the ground. The more I learned and read about the heel strike, mid-foot strike, and forefoot strike, the more I knew I needed to make a change.
I started to focus on my arms pulling back instead of pumping forward.
I started out barefoot in the grass. Running barefoot really connected me to my body and how it works. I could clearly tell the difference between the times my heel would strike the ground first and when I would land on my forefoot. When I ran with my running shoes on, I was almost disconnected from my feet because they were so padded. I was losing the most sensory part of my running gear- my feet. I would run for 60 seconds in the grass and then walk to recover. I basically did Week 1 of the Couch to 5K program twice in the grass, barefoot. And it felt good and it felt right and I felt like I connected in a different way.
I’m not aiming to become a barefoot runner. I’m not willing to shell out the money for a pair ofVibrams, either. But I did search for new, lighter shoes.
I found lighter shoes. I had been running in a pretty chunky shoe with lots of cushioning that was designed to help with my pronation. However, if I don’t heel strike, pronation isn’t an issue. Heavy, chunky shoes add weight to my feet and make it more of a burden to lift my foot as I run.
I’ve basically had to start from square one with my running. My body is healthier and stronger now. But this new way of running is naturally faster so my endurance has to be relearned and strengthened all over again. I’m learning how to breathe and how to control my pace all over again.
The most important thing that I have learned is that there is only one way to absolutely, completely, totally fail. There is only one thing that guarantees success vs failure. With all the reading and researching and watching and listening about foot strike and posture and knees and arms and breathing and gear and shoes and trails and hills and injuries and so on, there was one thing that I took away from all of it as the single most important key to running. Truly, if anyone follows this one thing that I’ve learned, anyone can become a runner.
You have to start.
If you don’t choose to go out and run, it really doesn’t matter how you foot strike or how straight your posture is or how bent your knees are. If you don’t get on the treadmill or get out into the street and put one foot in front of the other, it won’t matter how you breathe or what your cadence is or how many steps per second you are taking.
In order to learn how to run, you have to get up and start running.