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Running 101 Contents
- Where to begin if I’m new to running
- Running Shoes
- Heel Striking, Forefoot/Midfoot Running
- Running Clubs
- How to become an efficient runner
- My forefoot/midfoot running experience
- Closing Notes
Running..! This is the last leg of three legs in a triathlon event. I’m a runner first and here is my view on running and what I’ve had success with. My experience leads me to believe that with proper running technique you’ll become more efficient, faster and lower your risk of injuries.
Where to begin if I’m new to running?
This is a question I get a lot. My advice to a new runner is to set a goal. Look at a race calendar and pick out an event. There are many different race distances to choose from. If you just want to get your feet wet go with a 5k or 10k run. Training programs for these distances usually last 12 weeks. If you want to dedicate more time into your training you may shoot for a ½ marathon or a full marathon. Training programs for these distances can last up to 18 weeks.
Once you find a race, register for it and this will make you feel committed and will help keep you motivated during your training. I also recommend getting a friend to do the race with you. Having a training partner goes along way. You can hold each other accountable for your workouts.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a shoe that fits you. Finding the right shoe can be the difference between enjoying your running experience and absolutely hating it. If you are in the wrong shoe it can lead to knee injuries, shin pain, hip or foot problems.
Go to a running shoe store and ask for someone to fit you. When you get fitted the store associate will more than likely ask you to take your shoes of and walk towards them and away from them. They may even put you on a treadmill. The idea is to figure out what kind of runner you are to allow them to get you into the right shoe. Talk to the individual as they suggest shoes. Make sure you ask questions. When you leave the store you want to feel confident that you are in a shoe that will work for you.
Heel Striking, Forefoot/Midfoot running
Most runners are heel strikers. If you want to improve your run you want to make sure you are not heel striking. When you heel strike it’s like stepping on the break each time your foot hits the ground.
Converting over from a heel striker to a mid to forefoot runner can be done but, it will take a little time. There are a couple different approaches to consider. You may start running barefooted, run with a pair of Vibrams/minimus shoe or purchase a pair of
’s running shoe. Barefoot running and running with Vibrams allows you to naturally develop your forefoot running technique. Newton shoes have a pronounced area on the forefoot of the shoe which is supposed to help promote forefoot running. Newton
Forefoot/Midfoot running benefits
- Develop a smooth, light and flowing stride
- Become an efficient runner
- You may develop a more natural gait
Running clubs are a great way to get your workouts in and to meet others who share a common interest.
Some running shoe stores and running clubs will offer running programs for various running distances. Some programs are free and some will charge a fee.
How to become an efficient runner
Here are several areas to focus on when running. Pulling all of these together will make for an efficient runner.
- Arm movement
- Foot placement
- Hip positioning
- Keep mentally fit
My forefoot/midfoot running experience
I purchased a pair of Vibrams five finger shoes around March of 2011. I decided to go with the Vibrams because I wanted to make sure the underside of my foot was protected when I ran.
I had just completed a marathon so I knew my endurance conditioning was very good. I could put in 10 to 13 mile runs and not be affected by the distance. I planned on slowly incorporating one Vibrams workout a week into my schedule. I walked around in my Vibrams for a week to help strengthen the areas in my foot and lower leg which I would need to be a forefoot runner.
I will never forget my first run in my Vibrams. It was a Thursday evening and I had a four mile run on my schedule. I was going to run two miles out and two miles back. I started off on my run landing on my mid to forefoot and I’ll say it felt really good. I was moving at about a 7:30 pace for the first two miles.
During the second mile I started to feel the lower part of my calf muscle warm up. I expected to feel something as I knew I was using different muscles to run on my forefoot. On the way back at mile three that warmth turned into what felt like a cramp. It was like night and day. I was running then I was walking. I had not ever finished a run before and here I was one mile away from finishing my run and I simply could not run or jog. My lower calf muscle on both legs shut down on me. I had to walk one mile back to my starting point. I was pretty nervous at this point I was hoping I did not seriously injure myself.
The next day came around and I decided to get a bike ride in. I was hoping it would help loosen up the muscles in my legs which shut me down the day before. I got through my bike work out and did not have any issues with my legs.
It was now two days after my Vibrams experience and I had a 7 mile training run on my schedule. I didn’t know what to expect I started my jog and felt really loose. I was able to put in the 7 miles without any issues. I think the bike ride the day before helped me out.
From that point on for about 6 weeks I ran once a week in my Vibrams. I got up to 8 or 9 miles in them. I did not want to put any more than that in those shoes. I felt that my forefoot running was coming around. During those 6 weeks I also focused on landing on my forefoot with my regular running shoes. I did not plan on running in the Vibrams long term. I just wanted to use them to strengthen the muscles I would need to use to become a forefoot runner.
It’s not quite muscle memory yet but, it’s getting close. I still focus on my forefoot running every time I go out for a run.
I hope you enjoyed this blog entry. The intent was to make this as entry level as possible to try and get runners off on the right foot.
Please keep in mind that forefoot/midfoot running is something that does not come over night. It will take time to develop that technique.
Please contact me with any questions or comments you may have.