I’m super excited because today’s post is by DAVE (I’m a big fan) and he’s writing about RUNNING.
About two years ago neither Dave nor I would have ever guessed that he would be writing about running. Dave ran, sometimes, but he ran because it was “an efficient form of exercise” (his words), not because he actually loved it. When I asked him if he was ever interested in doing a race, like a half marathon, he said no way. Fast forward to now and Dave has actually run two half marathons with me! He’s also increasing his weekly mileage and starting to really like running for running! I LOVE IT!!! Here’s some of Dave’s newfound thoughts and learnings on running shoes, form, and attitude!
I’m enjoying my new Saucony Kinvara’s. They’re last year’s model, but they got Runner’s World Best Debut award and have been fantastic for transitioning into more barefoot-style running.
I had considered going straight to Newton’s, but the steep adjustment period required with those as well as the high price tag were deterrents. I ended up getting a great deal on the Kinvara’s since they were a year old. (Side note: In general, I’ve found that this is the smartest way to go with purchasing shoes: wait until the new model comes out, then buy last year’s model on sale. I had a sales rep tell me once that the material in the shoes deteriorates over time, making such a strategy counterproductive. I believed him, only find out later that this is no longer the case with the shoes that are sold today. Hmmm…)
Anyways, back to the Kinvara’s. They’re a good transition shoe because 1) They have a flatter, flexible sole which encourages a mid-foot strike rather than a heel strike, and 2) They still have a degree of cushioning, so you’re not exposing your feet to Newton, Nike Free, or Vibram level punishment right away. I may move towards one of those options in the future as my feet get stronger, but for now I’m enjoying the ride.
I’ve been intrigued by the idea of proper running form for awhile now. It seems like in every other sport they teach you the “right way” to do it so that you can maximize your body’s performance. Yet with running it’s seemed to be more like “you figure it out” or “everyone has their own style.” What?? Surely there has to be a better way to run than just going out there, flailing around, and hoping for the best.
Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run triggered an “ah ha” moment for me when I realized that the body might actually be designed to run in its most primal way: barefoot. (Thanks, Kim, for reading it to me on our roadtrip!) It was also intriguing to think about how shoe companies may be designing products that actually weaken the foot rather than strengthen it. I was beginning to make connections between what we put on our feet, how our feet hit the ground, and the form that results. But I wasn’t sure about next steps.
So, I was delighted when I opened a recent issue of Runner’s World and saw they had an article on form. They did a really great job of providing an overview of the topic, while also giving some practical pointers on what good form looks like.You can read the whole article here if you’d like. So what does good running form look like? While there’s still some debate, here’s a basic breakdown. I’ve been striving to put all this into effect lately:
Putting these elements of form into practice has made a huge difference in my running! I feel like I run lighter, freer, and with much less wasted energy now. Beyond that, there is the psychological benefit of knowing that each step is moving me toward greater health and less chance of injury, as I train wisely and try not to overdo it. Having transitional shoes is helping with this. In addition, I’ve also been practicing breathing through my nose, which I think has been helpful as well. I’m excited about increasing my speed and distance as my body adapts to these changes.
Another thing Born to Run did was help shatter my paradigm of how far human beings are capable of running. Did you know that there are people who run 100 to 150 miles at a time? These are not super-humans. These are people like you and me who have learned how to eat, train, think, and run differently. Granted, distances like these may not be feasible for everyone, but the point is that the human body is actually capable of a lot more than we give it credit for sometimes.So I’ve been thinking about false barriers lately. 26.2 is a false barrier. There’s nothing magical about that number. The body is capable of running beyond 26.2 miles. It’s not like when we reach 26.2 miles the body freezes up and says “Whoah! I’ve hit my limit! I’m utterly incapable of going one step further. You must stop now!”
Four minutes was once a false barrier. People thought it was physically impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. Then Roger Bannister did just that, and suddenly people everywhere started running the mile in under four minutes. Imagine that. What couldn’t be done, could be done.
So, does this mean I’m out there running blazingly fast and incredibly far everyday? No. I’m pretty ordinary actually. I currently average 12-15 miles a week with 8 ½ to 9 minute mile times. However, naming false barriers has changed how I think about running and what I believe I’m capable of. I’m not as quick to stop a run early. I’m not as afraid to try for a longer distance. And I’ve stopped telling myself I’m not a “a real runner” (whatever that means) simply because I started late in life, didn’t run track, etc.
If you’re done reading this post, that’s fine. Thanks for taking the time to check it out! If you want the not-entirely-necessary-but-perhaps-somewhat-interesting bonus material, then read on, my friend!
As with most things in life, there are parallels that can be made if we look for them. Here are a few examples that came to mind for me in regards this post.
1. New Shoes
The tools we use in life matter. They can be the difference between minimal frustration and maximum frustration (ever used a crappy computer before?) They can be the difference between mediocre performance and great performance (ever see a NASCAR driver trying to win in an old Model T?). They can be the difference between “I should do this” and “I am doing this” (I recently switched from drinking water from a glass to drinking water from a bottle, and my water intake has soared 100%!) Sometimes the right tool makes all the difference.Which tools are you using in life? Are they the best ones for the job?
2. New Form
Proper form extends beyond running. We can have proper form, or at least better form, in every area of life. In the same way my new running form has enhanced my workouts, I’m finding that new form in other things can be really helpful as well. For example: email. Who knew there was a proper way to process email? This guy did, and he shared it with Google.
Here’s another observation: Good form fades most quickly but is needed most dearly in times of distress. The harder my run is, the more likely I am to revert back to my old, unhelpful patterns. When I’m tired, I have to be way more intentional about sticking to the proper form.
This is true with anything in life, such as relationships. You have a difficult person in your life. You learn a new and better way of relating to them. They push your buttons. You get to choose whether you revert to your old way of reacting to them, or your new way of responding to them (the proper form).What are some areas of your life that could benefit from better form? What does that look like for you? Expect resistance when things get hard!
3. New Attitude
False barriers are everywhere in life. Many people never push past them. Some don’t even recognize they exist. We can have false barriers mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, financially, and spiritually.
Deep down, I think most of us long to push past false barriers. There’s something in us that just responds to that. We come alive when we see others do it, and we wonder if we could too. Think about the movies you watch: most of the inspirational moments happen when the main characters push past false barriers, leading them and others into new and better places.
What are some false barriers in your life? Where do you limit yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, financially, or spiritually?