Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Running efficiently is naturally wrong

Does form follow function?
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

Remember when you were young and your parents taught you how to run? Of course not. Kids learn to run naturally through a combination of confidence, impatience and excitement. I was thinking about this on my run this morning, as I put attention to where my feet were falling and the length of my stride. It occurred to me that all the books, magazines and web articles I've read about improving running technique are only corrupting what we comfortably do by nature.

I realize that this is a provocative statement. Landing on your fore foot and shortening your stride will make you a faster and more efficient runner, right? I'm not sure. I've observed enough runners to confidently say that the way you look while running is not a true indicator of how well you can actually run. I remember running on the Bethpage trail and seeing a woman ahead of me who was pronating so badly that it was making me dizzy. I increased my pace to pass her, until I realized I'd never catch her. Inefficient as she looked, she totally outclassed me in terms of speed.

I haven't given up on improving the way I run, but I'm no longer willing to fight nature to do it. I've been running in minimal shoes for three years to promote mid-foot landing, but all my running shoes still show wear on the lateral heel, along with the mid-foot. I'm okay with that because (knock wood) I've had very few running injuries during the same time period. I'll still think about the position of my arms and height of my knees when it crosses my mind during a run. The fact is, whether I do everything "right" or go with what feels natural, I tend to run just about the same.

2 comments:

  1. This is logical on so many levels. Sometimes I concentrate so much on what I've read is 'correct form' that I end up feeling like Robocop looks. When my hips start to swing and I imagine I'm in high school on the track again, I feel like myself. However, after a quarter mile or so I find myself coming down closer to my heels, and I start to feel it in my knees and calves. There has to be a point where it can all come together.

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  2. I'm going to try to ignore technique for a while and see how it goes. It's hard to stop thinking about performance while running but I'm willing to try.

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