Five months off gave me a lot of time to think. It was a time to reevaluate. My goal was to figure out how I could avoid dealing with such a devastating (in terms of time) injury again. There were quite a few things I dismissed (core strengthening, for example; all post-injury tests showed that my core was very strong), but there are three things that I’m in the process of changing.
Duh! This seems like an obvious one. It is quite a change for me though. I warm up with some light stretching before every run and do extended stretches (~15 mins) after every run as well. The key here is to not just do it as running ramps up and forget about it when I’m back in shape, but to keep it up over time and make it a habit. I used to always make excuses that I didn’t have enough time to stretch. These days, I’d rather run a mile or two less, but take care of business.
I have also gotten creative on when to stretch to save on time. I stretch in shower, while brushing my teeth, when I’m talking to my mom on the phone, when filling up my car with gas, etc, etc. There are lots of 20-30 second stretches of time during the day so to speak.
When bending forward, I could only get my knuckles down to my knees. Now, I easily touch my knuckles to the ground with my knees straight. (try it!)
Adjusting my Running Gait
Dozens of old running shoes prove over and over: I’m a heel striker. That’s not healthy. It puts considerably strain on the hamstring among other body parts. I firmly believe that this was one of the reasons, if not the main reason, that I got hurt. As a result, I have been studying running form mainly by watching youtube videos. This is a great that shows the two running styles side by side:
If you want something less dry and more pleasing to the trailrunner’s eye, there’s always Anton’s first movie trailer (“Indulgence”):
I will say that it’s taking a bit for me to adjust, but I think it’s worth my time in the long run. Watching top runners on youtube is a great way to learn better form (you may also want to check out Geoff Roes’ “Slogging to the Top“)
Finally, I have found a cross training exercise that works for me. Biking or swimming are great, but they just don’t do it for me. Bikram Yoga is now part of my weekly routine. I would recommend to find what works for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an aerobic work out. (A lot of ultra runners seem to like cross fit as well). Finally, make no mistake, Bikram is hard, especially for beginners.
In all, there are only three things that I’m changing, but they are all significant. It will take a while for me to get back to where I used to be in terms of overall fitness, and the changes I am undertaking aren’t exactly a short cut. But I believe that it will be worth it in the long run.
- Are there random times that you are stretching?
- Have you tried changing your form at any point in your running career?
- What sort of cross training do you do?