I want to preface this by saying that I know absolutely NOTHING about running. Always hated it in school because I was (am) the SLOW, CHUBBY girl who takes FOR. EV. ER. to finish the mile in PE. In fact, some times when we’d run indoors, we’d hide in the pile of gym mats until about 12 minutes had passed, take a couple laps, and then say we’re done. (Hey, I’m not too proud to admit that!)
Anywho…I know nothing about running…always jealous of those who enjoy it – it really seems like it’d be relaxing, and a nice way to wind down after a particularly crummy day. I never really tried it because I was embarrassed (still am a bit, if I’m honest) because I’m still the chubby slow girl who huffs and puffs a few steps then peters out and walks the rest of the way. Fast forward to May of this year when – on a bit of a whim – my aunt, uncle, cousin, mom, husband and I decided to participate in a 5K to help raise money for young man battling cancer. (I ask you, who decides to run a 5K on a whim?!!??!!) So we went….and we ran…and it was….GREAT! (I should add the disclaimer that I didn’t run the whole thing…I jogged to the 1/4 mile mark, then walked the rest of the way with my aunt. My husband did well jogging most of it (sprinting the last lap) with my Uncle, my cousin jogged all of it, and my awesome mom jogged most of the way as well!) But I have to tell you – I loved it. I was sweaty, tired, my legs were exhausted, but it felt wonderful. We all decided to sign up for another 5K in August – and this time I’m determined to jog the whole thing.
OK…back to my original thought…I don’t know any thing about running – proper form, foot strike, strides-per-minute, etc. I have been trying to learn as much as I can to improve – I know I don’t have proper form and I seem to get physically tired more quickly than it seems I should (I can go an hour or two with Zumba classes and feel great). So I thought I’d do some looking online for hints and technique to try out while I’m completing the Couch 2 5K program.
I first learned about my foot type (forgive me – I don’t know if there is a proper term for it), and I have low/flat arches, and I over-pronate as a result. Most running forums and articles recommend motion control or stability control running shoes. I have some decent shoes already, but they feel very heavy on my feet; I know I want something more lightweight. In reading more about shoes, inevitably barefoot or natural running comes up. And after reading more about it, I can see where it would be more beneficial/comfortable on your feet, legs, knees, and hips.
In doing further research on the subject of shoes and the like, I found a YouTube video of a person running on a treadmill with normal shoes, similar to what I wear. The foot strikes heel first, which is how it is for most runners, which tells me it may be ‘normal’. In the middle of the video, the runner removes his shoes, and begins to run again…the change is amazingly obvious – the foot strikes mid-sole or closer to the ball of the foot. Those of the ‘natural’ running persuasion feel this is the appropriate way to run. I began to think about this, in relationship to the shoes…most running shoes have a thicker sole, and a thicker heel – meant to protect the foot, provide support and cushion the impact of the foot strike. When you’re wearing shoes, you don’t really think about what you’re stepping on…you don’t think about the surface under your feet. You trust that your shoes will protect your feet from any foreign objects that might cause injury.
Now think about what happens when you’re barefoot. (Go ahead…take your shoes off and walk around a bit…I’ll wait…) What happened? When you stepped down, did the ball of your foot tend to hit the floor first? Is this because, when we’re barefoot, we don’t feel that sense of security of our feet? Do we subconsciously feel more vulnerable when our feet are bare, and so we tend to step lighter? Could this be why so many are turning to natural or barefoot running? Wearing thicker soled shoes may cause us to be more aggressive with our stride – we may strike the ground harder because we can’t feel the impact as much, which in turns causes stress on the joints which have to absorb the shock of impact.
Are there any runners out there? Am I on the right track? (HA! Get it!? Running…track…hehehehe!) Any suggestions for thinner soled shoes which still provide support for my lower/flat arches and over-pronation, but still gives me a sense of what surface I’m running on?