I managed to run about 13.5 miles this week, a little more than the half marathon I’d like to run this October. I ache, but it’s not because I’ve strained my Achilles tendon, like I did in late January and early March. I ache because I ran, ran right and ran well.
Earlier injuries, I think, were due most directly to style: I was running badly. Actually, I’ve run badly all my life. I remember gym class in (I think) sixth grade. We had to run a half mile to pass. Excruciating pain shot through my shins after just that short jaunt. I learned through reading message boards and running sites last fall that my shin pain, which stopped me from running for years (not that I wanted to) likely stemmed from my heel-first stride. I was running like I walked. From a mechanical standpoint, it makes sense; each step sent a shock up my leg.
After reading that, I followed advice I found on the Web that instructed me to run toe-first to better absorb the impact. Immediately, I could endure longer and longer runs. I hit a personal best of just over six miles in one run.
The problem: I over corrected. Shin pain gave way to heel injuries. First, the right, which left me limping for over three weeks. Second, the left. Again, a limp, but less pronounced and only lasting for about two weeks. Since recovering, I’ve run maybe five times, trying to strike a middle stride, hitting the ground just behind the ball of the foot.
So far, so good. I tied that personal best this week, and look forward to incrementing upward as October’s half marathon nears.
In the meantime, I’m inspired by this story in The New York Times, and this episode of PBS’ Nova I recently watched. The former taught me a lesson about variable speeds. The latter showed me that anyone can go the distance.