A friend of mine called the other day and relayed some bad news.
He’s a triathlete and was looking forward to this season, but the pain wasn’t going away. Finally he went for an MRI and they said his knee is shot. No more running.
No more running? Two years ago I may have welcomed that news, but now that I have realized its joys, that sounded like a crushing blow.
He was fairly upbeat and said he could probably do one triathlon this year, but he shouldn’t train by running. Just let it all hang out and deal with the pain later.
Then, of course, he said he could get a new knee.
A new knee?
I always hold out hope that the body can repair itself when treated right, but he didn’t seem so sure. He’ll get some “silicone like” injections that will help his joints move better, but in the end he doesn’t think he’ll be able to rebuild the cartilage he’s lost.
But we did talk about running style and how it can lessen the impact on your joints. Mainly by changing your gate.
It’s not easy, but it’s pretty simple.
Pounding your joints and bones for a long time will cause more damage and I have really thought about this hard since I’ve started running. I have focused on a soft stride on the ball of my foot and a quick lift. The weight of your body will destroy itself over time and the best way to combat that is to reduce impact.
Shorter and more frequent strides. Pick em up and put them down. It just makes sense. The less time your ankle is on the ground the less impact it will absorb.
I remember when I started running as a kid. I had these long ass strides and taxed the crap out of my muscles to run. It was hard to run like that because you’re not using momentum. Now, I think about momentum all the time. Swim, bike, run. What’s harder to stop than momentum?
So much of being able to use momentum is trusting it. In running it is that feeling of “falling forward” that seems intimidating. It’s more about “catching yourself” than pushing off.
Sure, that’s pretty simplistic, but the reality is using momentum makes any sport 50% easier. Momentum is an unspoken force of physics that’s undeniable but runners rarely use it. They tend to land on their heels instead of hinting themselves forward. I’ve heard a 200 lb man landing on his heels actually is like catching 800 lbs. Over time, you can see how this would do damage.
Last summer we were doing one mile intervals around a track. We started slow, then picked up to our half marathon pace. For the last mile I kept pace but decided to run the last two laps as fast as I could. I was hot, spent, and ready to be done. But as hard as those last two laps were on my breathing, I really noticed how much easier it was on my legs. I was picking them up and putting them down. I was trusting the momentum of the run. It was almost literally like I was flying. I didn’t feel the pain of the steps like I had for the previous 10 miles. I was floating on air.
I was also in pretty good shape, but it makes you wonder. The less you pound, the less it will hurt. Are you trusting the momentum?