Saturday, June 29, 2013

Testing the Water - Running again

Knee Issues turn into Non-Issues

After last years busy schedule I slacked off running due in part to knee pain. I was seriously looking at hanging up the Brookes and moving over to Clip-ins. This was a big change for me. If you've followed the blog for any period of time you know my love for running is immense. I get a lot out of it, mentally, physically and spiritually. I half way resigned myself to running 5Ks every week or so and making due with a half hour of my favorite pastime.

Time heals all wounds

Apparently my knees needed rest. The time I let my running slack off allowed for some healing as I have now resumed a moderate level of running. At work we have a program challenging employees to complete two months of exercise. If you perform an average of 30 minutes a day over the course of the program you are rewarded with $100.00 amazon gift certificates - being a "Prime" member this was a great incentive and serves as motivation, but having recently returned to running I am wary that I might overdue. 

Appease the Knees

The knee issues seemed to be the result of running downhill without providing them with enough isolation. and as my favorite local route, (right outside my door) has a bunch of hills, I need to be very careful of the stride impact. 

The downhill stride is much different from running uphill or on level ground, the force of gravity is pulling you to go faster and your stride which on level ground is attempting to sustain your speed now must resisting this pull. The force of impact is now directed opposite of the force you normally exert. Maintaining the same technique you would use for level running will cause large increases in impact force to the knees.   

Reduce the Force and Expand Impact Area 

Reduce the force by increasing the pace - not the speed. Shortening your stride reduces the overall impact by increasing the amount of steps over a given distance - each step must absorb less of the overall energy.

Expanding the impact area is more complex. move the strike further up the foot - mid foot at a minimum, keep your heel off the pavement, running downhill with heel-strike is a recipe for disaster. Lean forward slightly - yes it's counter intuitive you are trying to control speed so you lean back, but leaning back again focuses the impact of your body directly on the knees. If you lean forward slightly more of the impact force is absorbed across the spine and hips dividing the overall impact many times.