Lie to Me

For just a minute, I thought I saw the light at the end of the non-running tunnel. I’d started filling in all the open slots in my mental race calendar.

race calendar

Silly me.

I need to learn to not get ahead of myself. Next time I mention the words “race”, “run”, “event”, or “sign up”, do me a favor. Tell me there’s no race worth entering until Dec 2013.

You’d be lying to me.

liar

But it’s ok, I’ll let it slide.

Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for any actions of hypocrisy pertaining to this post in the near future.

Gift Guide for the Injury Prone Runner

This isn’t the first December I’ve been injured. I really need to work on my timing. When else are you supposed to ask for the ever elusive Garmin or a new road bike? Winking smile

Injured runners need gifts too, right?!

My picks for Runners:

Ice Packs.

If you’ve ever had an injury you know what an intimate relationship you develop with ice is. It doesn’t take long for a dripping plastic bag of ice cold water to persuade you not to ice- and that just won’t work.

My old favorites: hot water bottle/ice packs. They can be used for warm or cold therapy, and never leak. I have one for each knee. Plus they’re cute- very important.

gal pal ice packs

My new favorite: Ice cuffs. Like sleeves, only freezing cold. These packs keep the ice where you need it so you can go about your day and not be held prisoner to the couch {aka the #1 reason I skip icing.}

knee ice pack

Books.

If you can’t run, why not torture yourself by reading about running?

My top 3 running books:

Long May You Run

It’s funny. It’s informative. It’s witty. I like it.

long may you run book

Born to Run

If nothing else, it’ll make you think. Superhuman tribes, pinole & chia drinks, and lots & lots of crazy running.

born to run book

Running Anatomy

If you can’t be obsessed with running, you might as well be obsessed with why you can’t run. Learn about how the body works, how injuries happen, and how to keep them from happening again.

running_anatomy

Therapy bands/Resistance bands.

A running injury usually comes down to the need to stretch or strengthen something. Bands and straps can help you progress faster.

resistance bandtherapy bands

Or go for a whole fitness kit and use it for all over strengthening.

fitness kit

New shoes.

You may not need them this second, but investing in a new pair of shoes after an injury isn’t a bad idea. Getting re-fitted (and telling the shoe fitter about your injury!) can help make sure you’re in the right shoe. Plus, you never know if your shoes were just a little too worn out. A new pair is like insurance for your feet.

Mizuno-Inspire-running-shoes

 

Foam roller.

If you run, get a foam roller. Period. {or a Stick}

 

So there you have it. Proof that I. am. lame. Frozen water and rolls of foam. That’s what I’m giving for Christmas. If you’re on my list, consider yourself lucky S.O.L.

Any other non-running running gift ideas?

Anatomy of a Running Stride

I’ve always been a big proponent of not trying to alter your running stride. The way you run naturally should be the way you’re least likely to get hurt. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people trying to change their stride and ending up injured.

running legs

And then Super Doc watched me run…

He told me my stride was too long (and I run lopsided, but that’s a different story). Too long? I thought a long stride was a good thing!

It all depends on what kind of running your doing- any kind of distance or fitness running is going to require a shorter stride. Hmm.

I was a sprint to mid-distance runner in high school. You won prizes if you had a long stride. Apparently you also get injured if you keep that up.

The doc told me to shorten up my stride and I’d feel better. (ha.) I was skeptical, but then I re-read one of my race recaps writing my last post. Well what would you know- my knee hurt way back then. (??) I shortened my stride and it felt better. Who knew?

So I’ve been practicing a shorter stride, and paying attention to running form. While the stride itself isn’t what caused my injury, it could help prevent it from acting up. [My probably is that my hip rolls in- which makes my knees roll in. If you ever wondered, you’re knees aren’t supposed to hit each other when you run. Winking smile]

running stride cartoon

Let’s talk running form:

Head: Keep the back of your neck inline with your spine. This means you’ll end up looking down slightly- but not so much you’re looking at your feet- glance at the road slightly ahead of you.

Arms: Keep your arms bent at about 90 degrees and let them swing forward and backwards. Believe it or not, your arms are actually helping you run.

Shoulders: Don’t let your shoulders creep up towards your ears.[guilty!] Check yourself occasionally as you run and pull your shoulders down. Try not to hunch or curve your shoulders either; keeping your shoulders back gives your lungs room to fill completely.

Upper body: Lean slightly forward from the hips, being careful to maintain a straight back & neck. (See above.)

Legs: Keep your stride short and light. It may be easier to think about speeding up your cadence, or how fast your feet are hitting the ground. To increase your cadence, you have to shorten your stride. When going up hills, increase your cadence even more- not your effort level! Some people suggest counting strides- aim for 180 strides per minute. (Yeah, that’s a lot.)

Feet: Land with your feet underneath you, not out in front of you. Hit with the mid-front section of your foot. (The ball of the foot and slightly behind.) Both of these concepts are the foundation of barefoot running, but you can mimic them in any shoe. Landing with your foot way out in front of you means you’ll hit with your heel first- that’s not only jarring to your body, it actually stops your forward momentum. You’ll end up working harder than you need to.

 

It may be easier to practice good running form on a treadmill at first. To practice shortening your stride, try to run faster without bumping up the speed. Use caution when changing your stride- think of it as a training exercise: start small, then build.

Here’s an neat article about running stride if you’re interested.

3 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Running Without Running

I had my one little pity post, and now it’s time to move on to bigger & better things. Ok, maybe not bigger & better- but small & positive.

It’s been 2 & 1/2 months since I’ve been able to really work out- I keep wondering to myself, where in the world will I be when I can start again? It’s time to something to set myself up for the best return to running as possible.

Cross-training is always a great option to keep up cardiovascular endurance when you can’t run, but running is all about the cardiovascular system.

Some other areas you can work on to improve your running:

Flexibility

Not only does being flexible keep your hamstrings from screaming after a run, it helps your body recover faster by improve blood flow. Increasing your range of motion makes you a more efficient runner, and lets you focus on other things like getting up that hill! Runners are notorious for having extremely tight hamstrings- especially men.

stretching

Strength

A strong core helps keep your body aligned properly which helps prevent injury and allows you to have maximum power through your stride.

core strength

Strengthening your lower body may seem redundant, but running tends to use your biggest muscles, and lets the little ones get away with slacking off. Focusing on lower body strength exercises like lunges & squats can help you really focus in an those ever-important leg muscles.

You may not use your arms to run, but having upper body strength helps you run with good form. Plus, if your arms don’t get tired, that extra energy can go into your running, not holding your arms up.

Balance

Improving your balance can help you run smoother, and therefore moving forward with less energy. Balance is important since you’re constantly switching from one leg to another, but it’s also important in dealing with uneven terrain or obstacles you may come across.

tree pose

Whether you’re running or not running now, focusing on these 3 areas can help improve your running efficiency, improve recovery, and prevent injury.

Looks like I’ll be doing some stretching, strength training, and balancing acts this week. 😉