There's a lot in play here, since I'm training for the Disney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler in Oct. As their website loves to point out with the always-on countdown timer, I now have 110 days left to get in condition to run farther than I've ever run. Hey, I have no ambitions to do a marathon, or (yeah, right!) and ultramarathon (2 to 5 times or more the 26.2 miles of a 'simple' marathon). I just want to get be healthy – truly healthy and fit – and be able to comfortably run 5k's and 10k's. Many years ago, I used to run an organized 10k (6.2 miles) each month. That was decades ago :)
There were times when running seemed to trash my knees. The worst was 30+ years ago after finishing the Cascade Run Off; the last mile or two or three of downhill killed me, and I limped around for a day or two after that. A doc told me that if I wanted to be walking when I was 60, I should probably not run more than 3 miles at a time. I'm no longer certain that the advice should be followed.
Well ... now I've read Born to Run, and am in the middle of reading Eat and Run. I've had my running gait analyzed at Fit2Run in Tampa. I picked up some compression sleeves, compression socks, Skora BASE minimalist running shoes, and have a few other pairs of "regular" running shoes (main ones are Saucony Triumphs).
So what's the effect of all this gear and reading?
After decades of running with the Boom! Boom! of my heel-strike running, I'm now working on 3 fundamental changes:
- Striking with the middle or front of the foot
- Taking a short and more frequent stride (I used a metronome set at 90 beats per minute today for the first mile and a half to help me hold my desired stride .. 2 steps per tick)
- Breathing through the nose (at least on the inhales) and focusing on diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing). I thank vocal lessons, pranayama , and martial arts for making that easier to do!
And to make those things easier (more automatic) to do, I ran the first mile today in the Skoras. Since these are designed for "barefoot" running, one automatically does a mid- or front-foot strike (try running barefoot or in water shoes and you'll immediately notice that without the thick padding of common running shoes, there's no way you're going to want to slam down on your heels every time!).
The actual routine this morning (as per my training schedule to slowly ramp up to the 10-miler) called for running 2 miles. So I walked the first 1/4 mile and then jogged at 6 mph (10-min mile, so not what I would consider a run) for a mile. I then switched to the Triumphs for another couple of miles (went slightly more so that I'd jogged a proper 5k ...3.1 miles), and then did a 5-minute cool down walk followed by stretching. It all felt great!
I was tempted to keep going, but I know myself, and know all too well that I can easily tend to over train. My schedule calls for 30 min runs each Tue/Thu, and then a longer run on Saturdays. Next week (as per the schedule) is 3 miles, so my goal next week is to jog the first 1.5 miles in the Skoras before switching shoes. I also found that I do prefer using socks with the Skoras. On Thursday I wore compression sleeves and was barefoot in the Skoras, so today I tried compression socks – I'm experimenting. It's hard to qualify the why, but the socks felt better.
And I wish to thank Google Play Music, which I had going on my phone (via ear phones). I'm experimenting with Google's music service, and I quite like the mix that was streamed today. I have a lot of Green Day in my music collection, so Google's algorithm pulled me a blend of Green Day, Limp Bizkit, The Offspring, My Chemical Romance, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, blink-182, Guns N'Roses, Alien Ant Farm, Foo Fighters, Sum 41, The Ataris, Simple Plan. I've not heard of about 1/4 of those groups, and I pretty much liked it all. Sweet.
I should also state that I typically run on a treadmill. I like it. I can put on some tunes or a podcast, not worry about crazy Florida drivers or the Tampa heat. We keep the A/C at 78F during the day, so even in our workout room if I have the door closed, the temp doesn't get above the low 80's, which is much more comfortable vs. the normal 95F outside during the warmer 6 months of the year. And I like the flat surface – no crown of the road to mess with. But I will do some outdoor runs as well – as time goes on.
And with that ...time to clean up, grab a breakfast shake, and (if the thunderstorms don't start up) go hit the yard work! ...And I'm already looking forward to the next run :-D