Yesterday, my parents and I headed out to the suburbs for dinner at my aunt and uncle’s place. My aunt Annie made a delicious, healthy meal (chicken with olives and dried plums, brown rice, salad), and after dinner, I headed out on the streets with two of my cousins, and we went for a run.
Here’s the breakdown of our little running posse:
- Aaron. 16 years old, on his high school’s track and cross country teams. Roughly 5’10” and 120 pounds, max.
- Macrae. My age, running is a main source of exercise. She runs 6-8 miles a few times a week. Roughly 5’2″ and 95 pounds, soaking wet.
- Me. Just started running 7 months ago. I run once a week, if that, and go, on average, 4 miles. Currently 238 pounds.
I’m not belittling my abilities as a runner – in fact, I’m quite proud of my running. I only draw the above comparisons because, for some reason, I had thought all day long, before the run, that I was going to be able to keep up with them. Ha! Nope, that didn’t happen.
I had a great workout anyway. We ran a few miles around Aaron’s neighborhood to warm up, with Aaron and Macrae circling back around every once in a while to let me catch up with them, and then we found a quiet cul-de-sac and ran some stride outs, which I had never done before. Aaron described them as short, fast little spurts. They’re not all-out sprints, but the goal is to push yourself to go faster, and lengthen your stride, without letting your form get sloppy. We ran down the street, then walked back to our starting point, and did that loop 5 times. Then we ran back to Aaron’s house, taking the long way, to add in a little cool down. All in all, we were gone for 45 minutes, and got back just in time for dessert (homemde lime cake – I had a tiny piece, but didn’t eat the frosting).
Running the stride outs was really fun – I’ve never done any sort of running drills before, so I liked doing something different. It also gave Aaron an opportunity to better see my form, and after some careful observation, he noted that, basically, I’m doing it all wrong.
Aaron’s diagnosis was that I was heel striking – landing on my heels instead of landing on the balls of my feet. Heel striking isn’t a great way to run, because, as Aaron explained it, your heel doesn’t absorb the impact of your foot hitting the concrete, so the force of the impact travels straight up your leg, where it’s absorbed by your knee, hip, and back. It’s hard on all those joints, and can also cause shin splints.
So Aaron showed me how to improve my technique, and for the last few stride outs, and our cool down, I was landing on the balls of my feet. Holy cow, that’s much harder! Phew! I know it’s something I’ll get used to, but man oh man, I was exhausted after we finished.
Working on improving my form will be a nice focus during upcoming runs. I look forward to that. And I appreciate Aaron’s interest and guidance in helping me become a stronger and better runner. Maybe some day I will be able to keep up with him.
Eh, probably not. But that’s okay – I don’t need to compare myself to high schoolers in order to feel like an accomplished athlete. Plus, I can kick his ass in Scrabble.
Keep it up, David!