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2178 Views 19 Replies Latest reply: Aug 29, 2012 7:32 AM by Rich in NH RSS 1 2 Previous Next
Dark-Horse Legend 285 posts since
Dec 16, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 26, 2012 5:20 PM

How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

Five years ago I could handle 30-40 mpw and now I struggle to run 6-10 mpw.

 

It all began when I got plantar fasciitis four years ago, soon after I started working as a classroom teacher. The plantar fasciitis forced me to quit backpacking with my sons--a great loss to me and to them--and to quit running regularly.

 

Whenever I tried to re-start my running in the last four years, the plantar fasciitis came back worse than ever, and during this grim time I also collected other nagging injuries (hamstring, knee, serious back trouble, etc.) possibly due to trying to do too much too soon (I'm not the most patient guy).

 

In June I quit teaching--good riddance to that career--and have spent a lot of time since then stretching and trying to ease back into running.

 

The plantar fasciitis is not as bad as it was, but now I have a brand-new problem: if I run more than about 6 miles per week, I find that running becomes too painful and awkward because when I stride, my whole body gets jarred and shaken--it's as if I have no shock absorbers when I run. And no, I'm not over-striding, because I already thought of that and have tried different stride lengths. I have also tried different surfaces. I NEVER run on asphalt or concrete (except occasionally, years ago, in road races): only trails, treadmills, and tracks.

 

My working theory is that I lost a lot of over-all body strength and muscle mass over the last four years, when I wasn't running and not working out much, either. (I have always found that when I can't run, my entire exercise program tends to slide, because running has always been the heart of my program.)

 

So, my working theory continues, what I have to do now is gradually rebuild muscle with a lot of strength work in the gym. Only after I do this--and it may take a year or two, because I have to make up for about four years of physical decline--will I be able to restore my body's "shock absorbers" (i.e., muscle mass) and be able to up my mileage.

 

Does this make sense to anybody? Sorry this is so long, but I've thought about this a lot. Thanks in advance to anyone who happens to see this post and reply.

 

Dark Horse





I'm a dark horse, running on a dark race course.

  • Rich in NH Legend 850 posts since
    Dec 10, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Aug 26, 2012 6:17 PM (in response to Dark-Horse)
    How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

    Your body's natural shock absorbers are your calf muscles and Achilles Tendons.  If you break into a sprint you'll see what I mean, you'll be up on the balls of your feet and your calf muscles and achilles will be catching you every time your feet touch the ground.

     

    What worked for me when I suffered from Achilles Bursitis and Achilles Tendonitis was to get away from conventional running shoes with their elevated heel and into a minimalist shoe.  I know there's a big movement in the running community these days to that type of shoe, but I made the change long before it was popular.

     

    If you think about conventional running shoes and their over-engineered, exaggerated heel lift, you realize an elevated heel gets in the way of your body's natural ability to catch itself as you run.  Get rid of the high heels and you free up your body to land the way it was intended to.  Do that and odds are your injuries will go away, that's what happened with me.

     

    Give this some thought D.H. and if you decide to give it a try, take it slow, odds are your Achilles and calf muscles have shortened due to the restrictive nature of conventional running shoes.





    Enjoy life, this ain't a rehearsal...

  • Rich in NH Legend 850 posts since
    Dec 10, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Aug 27, 2012 3:59 AM (in response to Dark-Horse)
    Re: How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

    Brooks Mach 14's is what I'm running in now, they're a racing flat that weighs in at about 6 oz.  If you decide to buy a pair, buy them a full size larger than your normal running shoe.  Note I said running shoe, not street shoe, they run really small and are intended to be worn without socks.

     

    I would be remiss if I didn't mention the bottoms of my feet have gotten sore over the last couple of weeks.  It's something new that's happened since I increased my mileage to 70 a week.  I should mention also that 90% of my miles are run on pavement and my feet may adapt to the stress at some point, but right now they're sore.

     

    You talk about $6.00 shoes at Sears, when I was experimenting with shoes with no heel lift I bought a pair of water shoes from W'mart to try.  I think they cost 2 bucks and were probably over priced...lol

     

    Anyway DH, you probably can try different minimalist shoes at any running store, they're the latest craze and most shoe makers have jumped on the bandwagon.  A couple of my friends are running in Vibram 5 Fingers and swear by them, I just can't get past how ugly they are...lol

     

    Good luck!





    Enjoy life, this ain't a rehearsal...

  • Rich in NH Legend 850 posts since
    Dec 10, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Aug 27, 2012 4:33 PM (in response to Dark-Horse)
    How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

    Dark Horse,

     

    What would happen if you went out on the street barefoot and tried running on the pavement?  Your body would adjust your stride immediately to keep you from getting hurt.  Same thing happens with minimalist shoes, your body immediately adjusts, you don't have to think about it, it just happens. 

     

    Ask Dark Colt if he felt his running form change when he ran in the new shoes, my guess is he'll tell you it did.  Those shoes could very well get him back to running cross-country again, just tell him to take it slow.  If he hasn't run since his freshman year he needs to CAREFULLY build a base.

     

    And here's an inexpensive experiment you can try, buy a pair of water shoes, take 'em for a run and see what happens.  It won't take long and you'll see what I mean, your lower legs will go to work like they haven't in a long time.  Just make sure the shoes you buy don't have the elevated heel I've already talked about.





    Enjoy life, this ain't a rehearsal...

  • Haselsmasher Legend 513 posts since
    May 25, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Aug 27, 2012 6:13 PM (in response to Dark-Horse)
    How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

    DH:

     

    I think Rich's suggestion of water shoes is a good one.  Or actual barefoot.  If you do try a little barefoot do exactly as Rich said:  Do it on a hard surface.  Many will "dabble" in barefoot running by running in grass.  That's really not a good solution.  You want the hard surface for the feedback.  Even if you decide the minimalist route throw in some barefoot running - because barefoot running helps teach the correct form - which is absolutely critical.

     

    Hip and core function are *critical* for this kind of running.  Try some balancing and one-legged squats to try and see how well the glutes are working.  Also, you're probably going to have to bend your knees more than what you're used to.  I believe it's Barefoot Ken Bob that says "Bend your knees................then bend them some more."  Actually think about the whole leg absorbing the impact.  It's amazing how if you think about the leg being a spring and absorbing the impact it will actually happen.

     

    Jim





    "Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."

    -- From the song FM by Steely Dan

  • Rich in NH Legend 850 posts since
    Dec 10, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Aug 28, 2012 4:08 AM (in response to Dark-Horse)
    How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

    It probably seems counter productive to shed all the cushioning designed into a conventional running shoe, doesn't it DH?..lol  Especially for someone like yourself fighting injuries all the time.  Just keep an open mind and give this a try, all it does is give your legs an opportunity to do the job they were designed to do.

     

    Haselmasher and I seem to be on the same page, except he's taking it a step further by running barefoot.  Barefoot running is probably even better, but racing flats come close, adding just a little protection for the bottoms of your feet.  In my case, I'd love to try barefoot running but have yet to take the plunge.

     

    And have you considered throwing strides into the mix with your training?  They're a great way to get in a little speedwork without much threat of getting hurt. 

     

    Haselmasher, welcome aboard...





    Enjoy life, this ain't a rehearsal...

  • rcuriel Pro 178 posts since
    Mar 2, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Aug 28, 2012 8:15 AM (in response to Rich in NH)
    How can a runner build up his "shock absorbers"?

    Since there are a couple of people talking about minimalist running, thought I contribute my insight.  To start, I would highly recommend the treadmill and barefeet.  The reason is simple, at the beginning of this program you really don't want to do too much too soon and your feet will be soft.  You won't really be able to go that far in barefeet at first, you need to toughen them up and this will happen naturally.  The skin on your feet will determine how far you can go, even with vibrams you can go further than is wise the first few runs.

     

    Ray

  • Rich in NH Legend 850 posts since
    Dec 10, 2007

    You could paint your bare feet to make them look like shoes DH...lol  Or just get on a treadmill shoeless and see what happens.  Live life on the edge, what's the worse they can do, cancel your membership?

     

    Hi Ray...





    Enjoy life, this ain't a rehearsal...

  • Haselsmasher Legend 513 posts since
    May 25, 2009

    Take the following with a grain of salt.  While I've run barefoot outside - I've never done it on a treadmill.  So the following I've picked up from others while hanging out in barefoot running forums:

    • Apparently it's very easy to get blisters when barefoot on a treadmill - much moreso than running barefoot outside.  The feet get hot pretty easily.
    • I've heard that virtually all gyms will tell you to put your shoes on if they notice you're barefoot.  Ah - our litigation-happy society.  LOL

     

    Jim





    "Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."

    -- From the song FM by Steely Dan

  • cocolicquot Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 4, 2011

    I love this forum. Killer questions, amazing information. I supplement nutrients w/ colloidal minerals to fortify joint absorption health.

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