Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Re-learning how to run

I attended an interesting clinic on Sunday at my local running store, Sports4 on Bank Street. A handful of runners attended the clinic on the merits of minimalist running shoes and mid-foot running styles. It was led by Bruno Lafontaine, of KinO2 consulting. He's an experienced runner/triathlete with lots of qualifications, so he knows his stuff.

If you have the opportunity to attend the session, do it! There's a lot of great info on the merits of minimalist running shoes. If you've read Born to Run, then a lot of the talk will sound familiar. You know, the evolutionary evidence that we evolved into distance runners. And the fact that some of the world's most successful running communities started from humble, shoeless (or practically shoeless) beginnings. There was also a lot of interesting information on the act of running and how heel-to-toe footstrikes are counter to the forces created by your body when you run. Another interesting discussion focused on how the cushioning and motion control features of modern running shoes could be contributing to injuries by impeding the brain's communication with the nervous system and muscle groups.

The clinic doesn't try to make you throw away your shoes and frolic in the snow barefoot. But it does have a lot of logical arguments to support transitioning to minimalist running shoes, trainers or racing flats. It's certainly not something you can do overnight. Bruno recommended gradually increasing your training in the shoes over time... 5 minutes one week, 10 the next and so on.

We also spent some time working on developing a midfoot strike. Oye. This was tough to do in my Adidas 1160s, as they're designed to faciliate a heel-to-toe footstrike. I'm sure our group looked ridiculous in front of the Supreme Court on Sunday morning galloping around in hugely exaggerated running motions. But the drills were very helpful in reminding us how running should feel and how to land on the midfoot, how many footstrikes we should have per minute etc.

When I got home, I spent a bit of time running barefoot in our hallway. And boy, I can tell you that I feel it today. There are definitely some underutilized muscles in those legs of mine. It really made me think about what I'd learned in the 2 hour clinic on Sunday morning and left me wondering if now is the time to make these changes.


Erica said...

My physiotherapist had me practice midfoot striking (just by running on my toes for a minute or so, then 'scaling back' to my midfoot), and she was certainly insistent about being gradual, as you said.

What sort of stride rate did they recommend? I've been trying to increase mine from ~85 to closer to 90, and it's TOUGH. I can't keep at it very long, no matter how tiny my steps, because my body seems to think I'm sprinting.

Nanookie said...

Hi Erica,

Bruno recommended 90, no less than 82. Most of us were over 80, so it's just about working at it some more. I'm just so scared of overdoing it and getting hurt again.

Last night I tried the mid/forefoot strike in my run and could do it for a few minutes at a time. My calves are going to hate me tomorrow!