When I tell people that I love distance running, I often get reprimanded. “You’re going to blow out your knees,” people warn me.
I don’t know if they genuinely think they are going to save me from the perils of ACL surgery or if people just like to get on a soapbox, but it’s getting old.
Distance running is not inherently bad. When running injuries occur, it is often due to improper training and/or running with bad form.
I might get in trouble for saying this, but we are each responsible for our own fate. If you take good care of your body and you know how to safely progress, there shouldn’t be an issue. Too many people get it in their head that they want to run a marathon, but they can barely even run a mile! If you don’t build up to longer distances gradually (the general rule is to increase your total mileage by no more than ten percent each week), you are setting yourself up for overuse injuries.
That, and for crying out loud, stop landing on your damn heels!
In the book Born to Run, Christopher McDougal suggests that modern running sneakers (Nikes in particular) are to blame for Americans’ poor running technique. He points out that the over-cushioning prevents people from realizing that their form is detrimental to their joints. Ironically, the very footwear that was designed to prevent these injuries is often the culprit behind them.
If you try running barefoot, you’ll quickly see for yourself how unpleasant it can be to land on your heels!
While I do like to run in sneakers sometimes, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be mindful of proper form.
Running on your heels isn’t only risky for your joints, it’s also not a very efficient way to get the most out of each stride. By leaning forward and landing on your mid-foot and toes, you keep your momentum and allow gravity to do some of the work for you. Whether you are a recreational jogger, or a triathlon competitor, proper running technique is key.
Several different names for the technique of leaning forward and landing on the forefoot have been used. A Russian doctor named Nicolas Romanov coined the term “pose running” in the late seventies and has written a great deal about it.
Many other books have addressed the problems with landing on your heels, such as Chi Running by Danny Dreyer.
Before you decide that “running isn’t for you,” make sure you fully explore all the evidence. Don’t be in a rush to get to the finish line, instead try to simply enjoy each step along the way.