RUNNER RANTINGS – Exposed Thoughts. Teaching kids and adults how to, and about running.

Please read the entire article: Thank you.

You can train to be a runner whether it be for general keep fit recreation, sponsored fun runs, or competition. Yes, you really can train to do something you thought might be impossible for you, and succeed. You can train to be a sprinter or a distance runner. You can certainly do both in the same lifetime, but you can’t do both at the same time. The reason being, that to be a sprinter you enlist fast twitch muscle fibers that are explosive by force and tire quickly, or you develop slow twitch muscle fibers designed for endurance. We all have percentages of each, fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, but can specifically train one set of muscle fibers for our intended purpose.

The one thing you can’t train for is the innate desire to do something. That is an emotion and happens to be the root cause of success or falling short of your target.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe.

There is no Holy Grail or Silver Bullet method to produce a decent running performance other than putting the necessary work in and having unfailing mental drive to achieve the goal. There are no known or special dietary enhancers that will make your training any easier. Nutritious foods and liquids are important especially for endurance, but what works for one person may not work for all.

As an example, loading up on coffee before the start of a 10K race increases the heart rate and pumps up adrenaline along with other hormonal chemistry changes. The effect on the caffeinated runner is enhanced or increased speed until it’s effects wear off, and then you are left with a drained feeling and thirst because caffeine is a diuretic. In other words it redirects water from your bloodstream to your kidneys for urine production. Think how devastating this would be for an endurance run, which is anything over 1-1/2 hours of continuous effort. An endurance runner can’t afford to lose essential fluids through increased urine production because they lose excessive fluid via sweat and exhalation.

Natural or Compromised Runners. People decide to take up running for a plethora of reasons. Not all people are “natural” runners though. What I mean by that is to be able to run with correct dynamic postural form pain free.

Look around how other people move, walk, jog or run.

Where are their feet and toes pointing? Are they In (pigeon toed) or Out (duck foot)?

Are their arches flattening and ankle rolling in excessively (over pronation)?

Do they land heavily on their heel (heel striker) or further forward?

Do they lumber along or is there a spring to their step?

Where is their knee alignment in relation to their feet, toes and hip? Is it In (knock kneed) or Out (bandy legged)?

Do they move stiffly or with flowing ease?

Are they wasting energy by superfluous body movements such as bouncing up and down or flapping arms around?

Is their breathing labored and fast, or calm, controlled and relaxed?

Now what are your own conditions of dynamic postural control whilst walking, jogging and running

We do it to ourselves. Anyone, and this is a large percentage of people, who runs with poor postural control is setting themselves up for problems at a later date.

Example: A typical runner presents with flat feet fallen arches, ankles roll in excessively (over pronation) and knees move in (knock kneed). This style of runner is very common and they will suffer from knee or hip pain at some point in the future due to torque loads placed on the joints, (unless they have excessively strong bones and joints). I’ve heard far too many people say, “I gave up running because my knee/hip gave out”. That is mainly rubbish. Their knee/hip joint gave out because they did not know how to run with correct form. They set themselves up for joint failure.

We are not taught how to walk, jog or run. We simply stumble into our own “normal” pattern. School kids are expected to play team games and some solo style sports. They are coached to perform their given sport and there is very little, if any, instruction given relating to correct form of body dynamics whilst performing those sports. The coaches want results on the field and no-one is thinking of what happens in later life to the kid who runs with compensation patterns and incorrect form. Kids should be instructed on correct bio-mechanical static and dynamic postural control and be educated on possible symptomatic outcomes if they don’t try to correct any compensation patterns. There is a huge amount of people who have no clue of consequences due to poor postural alignment issues.  They pay the price with pain, doctor visits, surgery and rehab, often permanently stopping the activity that created the issue or suffer it again later because they didn’t change their compensatory patterns.

Running happens to be something humans are perfectly adapted to. It’s in our genes.

Our ancestors once had to run from predators and run to catch pray. It’s an innate ability that we all possess. However, our ancient cultivators did not have to run very long or hard to slay their vegetables and fruits!!

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We have one major advantage over the animals that we’ve prayed on for millennia. We sweat. Yes, fleet footed animals will surely outrun us but they cannot outlast us. Animals cannot thermo-regulate their bodies, (dissipate internal heat build up from effort), because they don’t sweat and must eventually stop to recover or literally die of heat exhaustion. The tortoise-like human is just like the “Energizer Bunny” and keeps on going, going, going so long as lost fluids and burned fuel in the form of food are regularly replaced to feed working muscles and regulate internal body temperature. Of course, it also helps if the human is a good tracker to eventually catch their worn down quarry.

This may sound far-fetched and purely historical but there are a few native tribes, Worldwide, who can still perform this endurance form of catching a meal, and there has been modern day experiments involving Westeners attempting the same, mostly unsuccessful, but some have witnessed successful tribal group relay methods of the endurance running hunt.

So, just what (specialist) equipment is needed to run?

Two fully functional legs and a brain to coordinate the movements along with the rest of the body. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, it is. Clothing is nice if you’re bashful, don’t want to upset the neighbors or get arrested for indecent exposure, but footwear is optional. We are not all lucky enough to have calloused soles to be able to run on any surface blister and pain free. Most of us have been molly-coddled from birth wearing booties and continuing into padded and supportive comfortable, or not, footwear. Because of this, the intrinsic muscles of our feet become lazy and our arches tend to flatten. The weakened muscles allow over pronation, we lose our spring, land on our heel and generally push off from the big toe only. But oh the joy of those comfortable padded arch supported shoes!!!! This is like a treadmill to disaster because we rely on the footwear to correct our problems – that is the chicken before the egg syndrome. If you’re reading this correctly then it’s the footwear that can be partially blamed for creating our problems.

Sports Specific Gear. You can pay expensive prices for the latest and greatest technological wonder shoe purported to give numerous beneficial marvels to you, and continue to buy the updated next year’s model with new flashy neon colors, or not. Considering most of the population wears shoes of some description and our soles are soft, then yes, we do need to wear some form of protective footwear so we don’t suffer from cuts and blisters. All we really need though is something lightweight to protect our soft feet whilst we run. Running performance is barely impaired or enhanced by footwear. Roger Bannister, the World’s first sub four minute miler, trained wearing Plimsolls which are similar to modern day American Keds, (unsupportive flat soled canvas athletic shoes). Many of the World’s current fastest marathoners once ran World record times barefoot, but nowadays are protecting their feet from cuts and blisters wearing big name sponsor supplied running shoes. Then all the hype and advertising Spin Doctors bombard our senses to make us want to buy the same style of running shoes that the prestigious race winner wore. Appealing to our “must have” and “need” senses, suggesting improvement to our own performance!!

Desire Allows Success. Again, the shoes are not that important. What you do with your feet, leg muscles and bio-mechanical running form is important. If you want to run any distance the most likely thing that will allow you to succeed is your desire. If your desire is strong and you are driven to succeed nothing will hinder you.

Within this website is all the information you need to study correct running form with dynamic postural control, several distance training formats as a guide, much information on what to look for in suitable clothing, socks, inners, shoes and running in different climatic and elevation conditions.

What are your running goals? Use this information wisely and go and conquer them.

e-mail your own Runner Rantings to me for inclusion into this website’s postings. Thanks.

References:

Human Anatomy and Physiology

Human Kinesiology and Pathology.

Certified Corrective Exercise Personal Training.

Many Books including “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall , “Why We Run” (Racing The Antelope) by Bernd Heinrich and “Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on Earth” by Adharanand Finn.