Born To Run

Running isn’t bad for you, you just gotta do it right.  For years people have continued to speculate that running is bad for your body, and there has been even more hype since the recent death of famed ultra runner Micah True who died while running in New Mexico. While this was a tragedy indeed, the truth is that many new runners just need a little education on the effects of the sport.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes:

In 2005 Vibram introduced FiveFingers, a shoe with toes and an extra thin sole, that would physically encourage a forefoot or a mid-foot strike, as opposed to the common heel-toe strike.  When the body strikes at the heel the initial impact shock is nearly 3x the runner’s body weight- and that’s a lot for the knees to handle.  3x your body weight?  That’s typically around 500lbs of force…that’s like an Eastern Lowland Gorilla sitting on your knees.

Since 2005 many major shoe companies such as Nike with the Free Run+ , Adidas with the Adipure Gazelle, and New Balance with Minimus have started to revamp shoe construction with lighter-weight and more flexible designs.

Ever since the introduction of the running shoe in the 70s many have relied on their super padded up Nikes to cushion the heel and allow that abrasive pounding to the knees, hips, and joints.  We’re not saying to trade your favorite kicks for tire strips bound with leather or Vibram Five Fingers, just be educated about the way you move and run.  Certain studies have showed that having a more fore foot running style has proven to prevent some injury as well as you giving up those early morning runs some of you may crave, but jumping right into a new way of pounding the pavement could also lead to injury if not eased into.

So, now that you know that not all is lost when it comes to running what makes it worth the chase?  While we don’t have to run from city to city to give messages, run down our dinner in the Sahara, or run from our enemies- what’s the point?

Body

New technologies and inventions over the centuries have enabled the human race to change their way of life.  Unfortunately that has led to sitting in front of the computer, in the car, at a desk all day while we are enabling our bones to get weaker.  Running regularly will condition your body to get stronger and handle resistance.  Running uses a lot of energy, roughly 100 calories a mile, something that few other sports or activities are more efficient if you want to drop some LBs.

HOW Many Miles?!?

OK, I won’t lie to you. Running is not easy when you first make the choice to turn off the boob-tube and head for the pavement.  And while everything in your body might protest against this new level of activity after a few trips, your body will adjust, and what seemed impossible- run 3, 5, 15  miles? Are you NUTS?  Will soon be something you can easily manage. The first time you reach the goal you have set, you will be surprised how you feel. Ever heard of “runners high”? Get out there and experience it for yourself.

Stretching

Blog writer Selene Yeager of Active.com explains that you need to stretch. While running may improve leg strength, it also causes them to tighten. Every stride you take forces your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips to flex and extend over and over while you stride down the road.

Yeager explains that both pre- and post-run stretching is encouraged to help prevent injury and soreness.

Pre-Run

Leg swings: Hold onto a sturdy object, stand on one leg and swing the other leg forward and back. Then swing that same leg side to side. Each swing should build until your leg is close to its full range of motion.

Walking lunges: Take a large step forward with your right leg, and bend the knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor and knee is aligned with your ankle. Push back upward, draw your left foot even with your right and step forward with the left. Try to keep your walking lunges fluid, and focus on proper form. Do 20 (10 per leg).

Post-Run

The following stretches target the major leg muscles to maintain healthy flexibility and range of motion. Hold all stretches for 30 seconds to two minutes.

Kneeling hip flexor and hamstring: From a kneeling position, plant the right foot on the ground in front of you, so the leg is bent 90 degrees, with the knee and ankle aligned. Keeping your back straight, press forward into your right hip while keeping your left knee pressed into the ground, stretching your left hip and right hamstring. To increase the stretch to the left hip flexors, squeeze and contract the glute muscles of your left hip.

Standing quad: Stand with legs together. Bend your left leg, bringing your heel toward your butt, and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press your shoelaces into your hand, so that your leg does the stretching instead of pulling up with your hand.

Standing calf: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about chest level. Placing the ball of your right foot up against the wall, heel touching the floor, gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf while keeping your leg straight.

Sometimes it will rain. Your foot might ache. You might feel tired, and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction, but you still keep running.  Just remember that you are lapping everyone else on the couch.

This weekend get out and show the Georgia Southern Eagle Nation your True Blue.  The True Blue 5Kis this Saturday, November 10 @ 7:30.  

For more information on the race and registration check out Campus Recreation and Intramurals website.

If you are interested in understanding more information about natural vs. heel-toe strikes check out what researchers and what works the best for you.

The Barefoot Heel Strike

Running Form

Suggested Reading for Running Inspiration

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