Friday, December 17, 2010

What's all this running stuff about anyhow?

A few weeks ago, I caught up with an old Raytheon colleague at the Brewery Exchange in Lowell.  In addition to work war stories, we talked about my injury this spring. I mentioned how I missed an Italian cycling trip and the Leadville 100 MTB race, and how I might need to start running. Paul had recently read the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. I used to read books more frequently. These days, why would I read when I could be riding or skiing? Anyway, Paul mentioned the book is about all these crazy endurance athletes, including the rise of the Leadville Trail 100 foot race. That got my attention. This was before I had my bone density scan.

Paul sent me his copy to read. I've nearly finished it. It covers an interesting cast of characters in the realm of ultra endurance running. McDougall delivers a message. Just like the paleo diet folks claim modern diet is killing us, McDougall claims modern running shoes are the source of many running related injuries. When our feet get all cushy and supported in these modern marvels, our feet get lazy and we run completely wrong, striking on the heel. The stars of McDougall's book are the Tarahumara, an isolated indigenous population hidden deep in Copper Canyon, Mexico. These people can run a hundred miles any day with minimalist shoes. They do not get injuries. How is that? McDougall strives to find out. The answer is the Tarahumara practically run bare foot. This makes your feet strong and instinctively forces you to land correctly on your feet, the way our feet have evolved to function. There's a great 10 minute clip on the Tarahumara here.

Today I began to work on my low bone mineral density. I ran. My last foray into running a few years ago was disastrous. This time I'm going about it methodically. I followed Dan Moriarty, an elite tri-guy from work, to the Merrimack YMCA. Dan offered to critique my running on a treadmill. The short of it is I didn't look too bad. I need to relax my upper body more and keep my back more vertical, but I seemed to be striking both feet the same and with decent form. I ran a total of 2 miles on a 1% incline. When I got back to work minutes later, I couldn't believe how wrecked my legs felt. What hurt the most was the side of my leg at the top of the titanium plate. Hope I don't have a stress riser there that will give me grief. In the Excel training log I keep, my activity drop-down has "run" in it. I finally used it again. Here's what my activity mix for the year looks like now:

Run is not zero anymore. A few years ago pie chart was almost
all road cycling.

So now I have to look into running shoes. Should I be influenced by McDougall's book? Dan kind of scoffs at McDougall's anti-corporate rant. I don't plan on running hundred milers some day. I don't plan on running as training for running. I need to bring balance back to my body. I'll have to see the folks at Runner's Alley in Nashua. A super plush shoe probably isn't in my interest. I want to start out with good form and avoid the immediate injury I encountered the last time I tried to run.


Glen said...

Doug, next season, you might want to give cyclocross another look. May be just what you need.

CB2 said...

I love the idea of running, and actually think I might be able to do some now that I'm in better shape, but the last time I ran anything more than a mile it wrecked me. I had to run my bike about a mile out of the woods Wednesday and I'm still feeling that today(Saturday). I was running with a bike wearing heavy Winter riding boots though.
James Harmon runs in those Vibram shoes with toes.

But running would take away from riding!;-)

PatrickCT said...

Doug, I used to be a heel striker; after I switched to more of a forefoot form & shoes with less padding, my on/off minor injuries disappeared -- a couple of shoe ideas - for road: nike frees or newtons are good, for road/grass/smooth trail: saucony kinivaras, for more technical trail: Montrail Rogue Racers (new in early '11), inov8 shoes (many trail versions) takes a while to 'break-in' our 45+ skeletal structure, especially on this hard winter ground...

Hill Junkie said...

Hey Patrick - Thanks for the suggestions. I printed them and went over to the Runners Alley in Nashua. First time in there. Pretty cool place. They have a treadmill you can test run shoes on. With winter upon us, I probably won't be doing any trail running soon. I picked up the Nike Free's. They wrap around my foot like a fine glove and not crazy expensive either. Feels like the ball of my foot is only 1/8" off the ground in those. I'll probably give them a first run on Monday.

Glen said... Answer to your shoe questions! Glen