Overstriding – How to Hate Running

I started running a few years ago (at around 30 years old) and since then I’ve had a number of minor injuries including:

  • hip pain.
  • heel pain.
  • tendons all over my foot that I never knew existed pain.
  • sore calves since I started running.

Most recently I had a pain at the back of my heel. Most usually with my various pains I could take a week off from running and the pain would subside. This time the pain came back immediately. I began to worry. After some googling I believed I had the beginning of insertional achilles tendonitis. This affliction seems very bad for people and can lead to years of pain and treatment.

The odd thing is that most of the people reporting this kind of pain are runners putting on some serious mileage (50 miles a week) and at a faster pace than me as well. I’m lucky to put on 20 miles in a week because my calves are always so sore and my best 5k to this point is at 6:40 pace.

Luckily I came across this forum post on runners world about people afflicted with achilles tendonitis. One user at the end had a different take from the rest (this is a summary):

You guys are spending too much money. The body can and will adapt to almost anything you throw at it, especially running since we’re designed for it…

I can run 8km(5miles) everyday! Not bad considering that I was sidelined for two years…

I keep a high cadence 180step/min…

I run everyday, even twice a day if I can, small distances. The body adapt faster this way.

I run in minimalist shoes!

I land forefoot but I let my heel firmly touch the ground at midstance. This way the tendon doesn’t work too much.

I never stretch. I think that in the adaptation process the achilles will self-adjust to the right length, not too short and not too long. But I use ART (calf massage) to release the tension after a hard workout.

At this point I was curious if picking up my cadence and shortening my stride would actually allow me to run. I put on my shoes, did a warm up, and went for a short run. I was pain free! The previous day I had pain immediately upon running.

I’ve been running wrong all this time

How hard can running be? Throw on some shoes and start running. I was wrong about that and my short pain free experiment proved it.

Even as an active person my entire life, my running technique was flawed. I have since ran a second time only two days after that experiment and no longer have sore calves as well. I don’t have sore calves the day after running! This makes me so excited because calf soreness has kept me from training properly.

My problem has been overstriding. I also tried to concentrate on using my glutes/hips/leg to push off rather than pushing off from my toes. It kind of felt like I was spinning my wheels running with a shorter stride but the motor skills will adapt.

Maybe now I can start improving my times as I will be able to run more often. One goal is to run a mile in under 6 minutes. My best is 6:05. At 33 years old my best days are behind me, but I feel like my running journey is just now starting.

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