Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Observations While Running

I went on a 10.5 mile run today - a bit of a stretch for me! I tried to stay true to correct form and did quite well as far as my feet are concerned. My legs, though, got very tired and stiff. Maybe I was too tense.

I went on a "revenge run" - kind of like my Nike Teaser. Only this time I ran up to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) just to show those know-it-all doctors what a barefoot runner looks like. This comes about from an experience I had last Spring where an OHSU doctor went riding past me on his bike and told me, "You can't run barefoot! You'll ruin your hips! I KNOW - I'm an orthopedic surgeon!" He was gone before I could engage him in the finer aspects of running barefoot.

So I was running along this very nice road that runs up to the hospital and smiling at all the cars and other runners and walkers that passed me. Nothing much exciting happened. One guy in a nice car really stared at me hard. But no snooty doctors said anything to me this time. I stopped at one red light and a mother with a bunch of kids in the car were waiting at the intersection. One of the kids, about 7, pointed me out to the others and then all eyes were on me. I smiled and held my foot up for them
to see that I really was barefoot. They all smiled back and waved. I ran by a bus stop and a mother and little boy about 4 were waiting. The little boy saw me coming and was watching me in fascination. I was waiting to hear something about being barefoot, but instead he said, "Mommy, that man doesn't have any pants on!" I laughed. It must have looked this way because my running shirt came down almost to the bottom hem of my running shorts.

Here's my interesting observation:

I was looking for the smoothest surface to run on. The road and sidewalk were asphalt, with the road being smoother than the sidewalk (more traffic & wear). There was this 10" wide paint strip separating a bike path from the main road. I tried to run on it, but that put me dangerously close to speeding traffic. So I opted to run on the raised cement curb separating the sidewalk from the bike path. It was smoother than the other surfaces, especially where it was covered with old moss growth. The curb was about 5 inches wide and was raised about 6" to 10". I must have run about 2 miles just on the curb, most of it uphill.

At first my balance was precarious and I had a hard time staying on it. Then I thought about how I needed to "run from the core." As I focused on this, my balance became completely natural and automatic. I was even able to let my thoughts wander and still keep on the curb. This was a great lesson and exercise for me.

Second observation:

Rick told me something about landing on a triangle area of his foot with a lot of the initial weight put on the outside part. When I was coming down the hill I decided to just run on the sidewalk and work more on my form. I imagined a "golden triangle" on each foot, along the right edge and towards the middle of the ball of my foot. I tried to make each step land on this triangle and roll back towards my heel from there. This made it so the area beneath the big toe was not the primary focus. This made my running a lot more enjoyable. It was almost as if my foot was just this little area, like goat feet. I ran all the way back to my car imagining each step landing on the golden triangle.

All in all a very satisfying run, although my legs were a little stiff and tired -- probably from only having low mileage this past few weeks.

I'll have to keep in mind running from the core and landing on the golden triangle in the future!

Happy and tired,


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