Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Running Effortlessly: Running Doesn’t Ruin Knees

In spite of significant cases of runners who get injured from running, there are just as many who do not damage their ankles, knees and hips. With all the controversy about minimalist running, unshod running and barefoot running, the jury is still out. 
Here is a photo of Pete Jacobs, at his running clinic for BPMSports. He is the consultant coach for this boutique coaching company (based in Singapore). The third fastest male marathoner, of all time, at the world championships at Kona-Hawaii Pete has more than one reason to be noticed seriously. This top-10 finisher at Kona in 2009 and 2010 was the fastest over-42.195K last year in Kona.

Here are some key points about running better:

1)    Proper technique is the key. However obvious this sounds, it is still popularly overlooked.
2)    Run low. Run light. Keep your feet near the ground.
3)    Before you begin running, do barefoot drills.
4)    Warm up is essential for activating your core muscles and major muscle groups (glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, ankles).
5)    Keep cadence high. Keep frequency (leg turnover) high.
6)    Land flat on your feet – and wholly. Your Achilles tendon springs your feet upwards and forwards.
7)    Relax your arms. The rhythm of your arms follows your legs.
8)    Stand up straight. ‘Run tall’ (be at your tallest instead of slouching or bending forwards).
9)    When you run tall, you land with straighter legs and therefore less recruitment of muscles that fatigue.

The occasional sore knees or ankles earned from a hard session, is understandable. Use ice, post-exercise stretching, and self-massage to ease the discomfort. As long as it is not excruciating pain from injury, rest assured that proper running form requires some time to learn. However, the returns on investment will be deeply appreciated as your scheduled efforts translate into more speed and efficiency when you step up.

On a nutritional note, a long-term multi-vitamin supplementation to the diet yielded no strong evidence of benefits. Natural foods seem to be the way to gain our nutrients. Also, based on the osteopathic/natural therapy approach glucosamine use seems to be complemented with Omega-3 fatty acids/oils. I also did a nutritional type (NT) test yesterday, and my results pointed to a Mixed Diet. It still means I have to watch what I eat, as there are foods I am aware I am intolerant to. Such is life, and the pursuit of athletic excellence!
I have been stepping up my training for Lanzarote; however, more on intensity than mileage. Over-distance seems to cause grief on my knees and ankles, so I do them only when scheduled. My body is going through a delineation process, where my weight goes up and down 2kg, with my body fat still meandering about the single digit zone. Last night’s rain after the 6K (@4:20 pace) was put to a temporary stop when it poured buckets, and I perceived that the immediate lightning risk was high. 10 minutes later, I dashed off when the lightning frequency was less, and spat out another 15K. I believe I held a 4:45-4:50 minute/km pace – so I was happy about that, despite my wet Newton Gravity shoes and one resultant blister. So, I am on-track for a PB (target of 3:15) at the Gold Coast Marathon in July. I have been following Fox's prescription of three, specific, sessions weekly whilst preparing for my 11th Ironman. The pool running intervals are helping heaps as I have replaced my barefoot runs with a 2-in-1 approach (barefoot + intervals). My target is to hold 42.195K at 4:35-4:40 minute/km, to qualify for Boston again with a better timing and thus, better opportunity for the 2012 slot.

I am excited about my run clinic on 23 April. Lots to share, I assure you – if you want to learn from a 40-something, amateur athlete, who started endurance running only six years ago, and qualified for Boston. We are standing on the shoulders of giants!

Photo-credit: Richard Leong

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