Learning to run, the right way. Part 1 – The research

A few months ago I taught myself to walk again, It was a slow process but I’m now finally at a point where I have enough strength and movement in both ankles to start conditioning myself for running,  And this time, Im going to do it right!

It all starts with me feeling ready to run, strong and recovered enough and also mentally able to start easing my way back in. When I had the go ahead from my physio after doing some drills on the treadmill I knew it was time to get my head down, and make a plan.

 

It would be all to easy for me to now tell myself to just slowly start jogging and work up the milage and cardio work as I feel comfortable, And to then fuel these painful endeavours with piles of carbs and sugary energy gels, it worked for me last time right… Maybe not as much as I had thought. My old training programme and diet did indeed get me through a tough, hilly and hot marathon course, but it wasn’t without its hiccups along the way. These troubles included all of the scarily “common” runners injuries like plantar faciitis, sore arches and shin splints. My diet of the high carbs and sugary energy foods that almost every runner swears by left me feeling sick and depleted by the end of my 26.2 mile race. The thought alone of having to suck down another energy gel just to prolong the inevitable “hitting of the wall” is enough to turn my stomach even now.

So as I am going to have to start from scratch with my running, Ive decided to start again with a new attitude to running style, training and diet. By the end of this I will hopefully a much fitter, faster and injury free runner. Where is the best place to start this journey, Right at the beginning.

Born to run 

What better place to start researching how I can become a better runner than reading a book about the best runners in the world. Christopher McDougall’s epic adventure story that follows the writer himself on a journey to discover why his foot hurts when he runs. This simple question leads to him learn more about the legendary Tarahumara tribe that live sheltered from the western world in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. For years legends of these “running people” setting off for 48 hours and more through the mountains fuelled by a simple diet and wearing only simple sandals have made their way from the canyons to the rest of the world, McDougall decides to go and see for himself.

Throughout his adventure he meets industry leading coaches, ultra athletes and medical professionals that are all brought together by one quite shocking idea. That padded running shoes are one of the most harmful things ever to happen to the human foot. Many people now are realising that the over engineered shoes that we all happily pay our hard earned money for naturally force us to heel strike when we run which hugely increases the impact through the ankle, shin and knee. This also leads to a higher rate of injuries, Around 60-80% of runners get injured each year, and all of the common injures like I mentioned above we never common problems before the 70s when runners ran in thin soled trainers that naturally made them run on their fore/midfoot which is arguably how our foot was designed to work.

If you are a runner and have never read this book I would Highly recommend it, Since picking it up I have barely put it down, getting hooked into the story, the adventure and this new way of thinking. I now also have a few more books on the list to read and research as much as I can, these include The Primal blueprint by Mark Sisson, and Barefoot Ken Bobs guide to barefoot running, Considered by many as the bible for minimalist running techniques and idealism.

 

Part 2 of this series will be up soon and will be all about the training, and my transition into this “barefoot running” style. Until then, keep making the small steps!

Steve

 

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