December 22, 2013


At a group run the other night, discussing my training, such as it is. That being, for the most part, as much and as long as I care to go. No soreness ever, really. Durability is perhaps not the best talent, if you're choosing one, but it does count for a lot. One is rarely without a hobby, at least. I was slightly hurt at this time last year, however, a "stress reaction" in my left foot. Probably three times since, I have managed to get some smidge of soreness there, including last week, after my icy trail race. Nothing major, and it's gone now. I didn't - and don't - think that this indicates any long-term structural damage. Why?

Because of an episode in an alley, leaping down from a curb. My foot was still tender, on that night, and so I pushed off with my left foot, and landed on my right. I nearly tripped over myself, after all of a two-foot journey. I spent the rest of that run, and the rest of this week's runs, intentionally landing on my right foot. Not because my left hurts - it doesn't - but simply to note how awkward it feels. And it does feel awkward. There are a numerous little dips, turns, and technical sections at the Clinton Lake trails, where I frequently run. And I've noticed now, having tried to do the opposite, that I habitually "plant" on my left foot. That is, anytime there is a harsh landing to be had, either on or amongst rocks, or stopping my momentum at the bottom of the hill, I assign my left foot the task. Landing on the right, in such situations, feels horribly awkward.

What I'm working towards, and beginning to incorporate already, is a more agnostic approach. Ideally, I'd run through and over obstacles, paying as little mind to them as possible, altering my stride not at all. Neither chopping nor loping, aiming to artificially place my left foot as the stabilizer, so that I can then push off with my right. As much as possible, run over things as I would if it were a sidewalk, a road, a smooth dirt path. Land organically, without forced or unbalanced stress.

I'm quite happy to have discovered this. Not merely because I think it ought to improve my running, on technical trail, or keep my left foot free of the intermittent soreness that seems to find it. It's just fascinating, really. Fascinating the movement patterns our body chooses, decides are most efficient. Which, as I found leaping from that curb, is not often wrong. But "most efficient at the moment" is not optimally efficient. Of course, given the choice, we'd all have the latter. Fascinating, also, because this was unknown to me for quite some time, for hundreds of thousands of steps. We think, often, of imbalances in running in terms of weak muscles. But I wonder, how many are like this? Lapses in coordination, movement patterns which have worn a rut? For me, and for others, these must exist. How many of them do we see, but fail to observe? As I said, fascinating.

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