Learning to Run…Again

I started running three years ago.  I have wanted to be a runner for a long time, to be able to walk out the front door and run.  It seemed so easy–how difficult could it be to put one foot in front of the other?!  I made some good progress at the beginning moving from running around the block, then down the street, working up to a two mile loop in my neighborhood fairly easily.  I was not fast but I was out there running.  But I could tell that there was something missing–something was not right.

Watching some runners, I could see that there was a freedom and a bounce to their step that I didn’t have.  I wanted it, but couldn’t figure out how they did that.  Instead my mind was filled with stats about how it takes years to learn how to run.  Very well meaning people were trying to encourage me by explaining that learning to run doesn’t happen overnight, but that was hard to hear that it would take that five years to become a runner.  I just wanted to be able to put one foot in front of the other and run and it to be enjoyable and it wasn’t…yet.  But I keep plodding along.  Ran two half marathons in 2009 and one in 2010.  In 2011 I ran another half, did an ultra marathon relay running 19 miles spread out over 24 hours, and a half ironman.

This Spring I got a glimpse of that joy when I was training for a half ironman.  I remember the time that I walked out of my front door to run down to the lakes, around one of them and back–the distance itself was a big victory for my but I also descended my last three intervals.  Soon after I competed in a sprint triathlon where I also descended my three miles on the run.  But I ran into a road block after the half ironman–a wrenched back that was not too happy when I ran.  While in rehab for my back the issue of foot strike came up.  I am a heel striker…which kinda goes back to how I started running.  In reality I had to start walking.  Then I picked up my pace and began to run, using the same form as I did when walking.  I had no idea that there was more than one way to run!   I was challenged to try and change my foot strike to a midfoot strike.  See the video below.

Supposedly it absorbs the shock of your foot striking the ground better and helps your foot turnover fast–two issues that were prominent in my struggle with running.  I started doing drills barefoot in the grass for a couple weeks and then began to incorporate a little running with a midfoot strike into my runs.  And thus the journey began.  It’s going to take a while but I can tell I am making progress which I will make sure to share with you along the way.  I am learning how to run…again.