This Sunday, I will be pacing my good friend, Emily, for her second half marathon. Please send your wishes for good weather and a pleasant race. And pray that she has the patience to deal with my incessant jabbering and encouraging for 160 minutes.
Question of the week: How do I run correctly?
Answer: This is probably the most common question from a new runner. And for a beginner, my answer is always the same... run the way you naturally run. Don't overthink it. Running involves mostly reflexes. Gait retraining can be a dangerous game - biomechanically, things are connected in ways we often don't understand. Your right arm my cross your body more than your left because your body is compensating for a biomechanical issue in your hips (just as a general example). The truth is that most people will naturally evolve into their most economical gait pattern. Trying to alter your gait will often reduce your running economy and will possibly lead to injury. *This is not to say there are never any changes that a professional can suggest to improve your running form, but for a beginner, allowing your body to just move naturally is your best bet.
Tip of the week: Respecting the injury.
As most of you know, I spent the last week or so injured. It was not a major injury. It was a relatively minor sprain in my left foot. It made running painful, although bearable. And towards the end, I can run, but my foot is throbbing after. What I did this last week, though, is try to treat this injury the way I would ask someone I am coaching to treat an injury. The truth is that with most minor running injuries, if you just stay off it a couple days and RICE (rest, ice, compress, and elevate), it often gets better. Continuing to run through pain can often agitate an injury and likely will make it take longer to heal. Not only did I stay off the foot for awhile, when I did come back, I did so with 0.5 mile test run, then 2 miles, then 3... and so on, until today, my foot was finally comfortable and I was able to push through 9 miles (although I was throbbing after and had to RICE). The truth is that every injury is different. And every runner is different. So I am being wildly general, but you must respect the injury. If it hurts... don't try to run again later that day - it will almost definitely still hurt. Pains that you might ignore if you weren't a runner, should not be ignored if you plan to put mile after mile of pounding on it. (Speaking of things other than general muscle soreness.) And this last week, I did something I've never done in all my running (I'm not injury-prone), I called a Sports Chiropractor trained in ART. I've never called a doctor of any sort for anything running-related. But I was glad I did. I got reassurance that there was no fracture and that walking and doing test-runs to see where the pain is were not going to make the condition worse... as well as having Dr. Magic Hands move a few jolted foot parts back into place. The point is to not be afraid to call a doctor if you have a concern or question. It is better to have a diagnosis and a fairly clear path to recovery. Just an example from the other end of the spectrum, a good friend continued to run through hip pain for weeks before finding out that her pelvic bone had stress fractures on both sides. That was months and months ago. She just today ran a completely healed 0.5 mile. Yeee-ooow. That's not where you want to be... take care of yourselves... it's the only body you get.
Motivational Quote of the Week:
(Some of you might recognize this as yesterday's Runner's World Quote of the Day... but I loved it and couldn't pass up sharing it.)
(Runners and coaches, please feel free to offer more input and/or feedback on these Coach's Corner posts.)