One (very slow) foot in front of the other

The treadmill is probably the machine I dread using the most of any of the machines in the gym. Running is in the league of burpees and push-ups for exercises I really, REALLY would rather not do (I’ve been keeping my pledge to do push-ups at least once a week, by the way, but I have not done a single burpee since the LiveFit trainer ended, I just don’t see the point), but I have been trying to subconsciously incorporate more running into my weekly workouts.  As I have discovered, it is very difficult to subconsciously add something to your own routine, but I’m trying to do more running and I’m trying not to notice that I am doing it!

I guess it really isn’t the treadmill I dislike so much as the actual act of running itself. I’ve discussed before how running is a unique form of torture that involves collapsed lungs and buckets of sweat, and I’d actually rather run on a treadmill than in the great outdoors. Call me a control freak, but I like to be able to adjust my speed according to my current lung capacity and I find running outside, especially on a non-paved surface, more work than being on a treadmill (and higher potential for twisted ankles if you are uncoordinated like me).

Despite all of my complaints, I’m actually getting better at running! I am able to go farther and faster- don’t get me wrong, I’m no match for Usain Bolt and I’d never consider entering a marathon (or even a 5k to be perfectly honest!), but its getting easier. I find that adding variety helps so I try to increase or lower the speed every few laps (this also helps to allow me to catch my breath, double bonus!), and, I’m trying to run on my toes which requires extra concentration.

This is not me. He is going so fast that one of his shoes seems to have caught on fire.

Toe-running involves changing your running form a little bit, and at first it feels very strange. When most people run, they land heel first and in doing so, place a lot of strain on their joints and hamstrings. Landing heel first is also a less efficient way to run as the entire foot must break-over in order to complete the stride, and (especially if you have big ‘ole feet like mine) this can take a little bit of time. Instead of landing heel first, I make an effort to land toe first. Not only is there less wear and tear on my joints (and therefore less chance for injury for any of you super dedicated runners who go long distances), but I’m actually a lot faster because I don’t have to wait for my size 10s to finish breaking over; instead of breaking over in a fluid motion from heel to toe, my foot actually acts sort of like a spring: I land on my toe, the rest of my foot briefly touches down and I’m on to my next stride. Because I’m not working as hard to get my feet off the ground, I am able to stay taller with my upper body while I run which opens my ribcage and helps with breathing, and, maybe this is purely coincidental, I’ve not had any of those awful side stitches in a while. I’ve been working on my running form in earnest for a few months and I can now do most of my run on my toes. When I first started to work on my form, It felt very strange- almost like trying to write my name with my left hand, but I progressed slowly and feel comfortable enough to go a few miles now. The next time you’re out for a run, give it a go for a few minutes and see how much easier running feels, its ALMOST enjoyable!

Science says its the better way to be!

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