I have never been a great runner. Growing up my coaches wouldn’t allow me to steal bases when playing baseball and they called me flat footed. I struggled to finish the mile in elementary school because I would get a stitch in my side. I had no idea how to breathe while running or what my foot strike should be. No one ever taught me how to run.
Shortly after high school I learned how to breathe while running when working out with a buddy. I would practice breathing just through my nose for as long as I could and taking full breaths. When I felt winded I’d stop and recover until I could go again. I had no idea what I was doing but it definitely improved over time. Now I rarely struggle with my breathing and almost never resort to breathing through my mouth.
Even though my breathing improved I still struggled with another big issue - shin splints. I didn’t know about things like how the foot pronates and what kinds of shoes I should wear or anything about foot strike. Finally I spoke with some people about it in college and they mentioned a shoe store that would put me on a treadmill and analyze my gait to find some appropriate shoes. I went there, ran a bit on the treadmill and got hooked up with some Mizuno Wave Inspires. Picking up the new shoes significantly reduced my pain and shin splints but there was still something missing…
Fast forward through the next few years of running occasionally, struggling with pain and overall not really enjoying the act of running much beyond a few miles at a time and we arrive at my last post. When I started back up running in March I had spoken to a friend and I was talking about my pain in my shins and my footstrike. After some conversation he had told me if I changed from a complete heel (brake) strike I would likely reduce the pain in my legs over time. After doing some “research” (watching YouTube videos and reading some blogs) I found a way to slowly work to a new strike.
To change up my strike I started walking on the treadmill for two minutes while focusing on where my foot was landing and then I’d run for two minutes - rinse and repeat. I did this for about a mile and a half to start and slowly worked my way up. But I noticed that I really struggled with landing and found that on the longer runs I would just change back to my regular strike because it was familiar and comfortable.
Since I was still struggling I went back to the drawing board (aka YouTube) and found some new resources. I found this video by The Run Experience on natural running form which went into changing the whole form and approach of the body to the run. After watching this I couldn’t wait to try out my new found tactic on the pavement. The next morning I laced up and took off. The change was incredible! I wasn’t having to think about every step anymore and my whole body just seemed to align. Changing to this has significantly reduced the pain in my shins!
This week marked roughly week four of my new form and footstrike. I was noticing a lot of soreness in my calves, some pain in my feet and ankles, as well as overall fatigue. It was time to admit to myself (much to my friend Allison’s delight) that I was pushing a little faster on the easy runs than I should so I decided that I would dial it back a little this week.
Sunday we knocked out an easy six miles. I averaged a 9:06 pace but dropped about 20 seconds for the last mile to a 9:21. This last mile is when I started to notice some of the general fatigue start to kick in but since it was the last of the 6 I didn’t think too much of it. We followed up the run with 4 x 100m strides and called it a day!
After the run I was looking for some new yoga to do (since I just finished my 30 days). I ended up finding a great video by Adriene called Runner’s Yoga. I used this to get a nice stretch after finishing the run.
I also got my Fitbit Charge 2 on Sunday (I went with a cheaper Fitbit over a Garmin because I am HOPING for the rumored Pixel Watch this fall). I was excited to check out my heart rate data and run syncing with Strava on Tuesday.
Tuesday was another easy six but I really started to feel the pain in my calves. The first three miles were ~9:07, mile four was 9:15 but the fifth mile was 9:43 and the final mile was a whopping 10:03. I really struggled on Tuesday after mile four and couldn’t keep my legs up to pace.
The Fitbit captured no accurate data for me on this run. I started the activity on both the Fitbit and Strava and for somereason the Fitbit didn’t pick up GPS from my phone and ended up an entire mile off! I was disappointed that I didn’t get any data but tested it out later that night and figured out what happened and got it working.
Wednesday was my slowest run yet with a slow five. At the first quarter mile I had a cramp in my foot so I walked it out and stretched it a bit before getting back at it. I decided I should really take the easy run easy to finish out so I averaged a 10:11 pace with my longest split being 10:36. Kicked it up a notch for the 4 x 100m strides at the end and walked away not feeling sore because I slowed it down but glad that I’d be resting the next day.
This was also my first day with “accurate” (given that there is margin for error in wrist sensors) Fitbit heart rate data. My average heart rate was 151 with the max being 160 when speeding up to finish the last mile. I was hovering in my goal zone the entire time since I really wanted to take it slow here.
Yesterday’s long run I averaged about 10 minutes per mile. We hit the first mile at around 9:15 and one of the group began falling behind. I took this opportunity to slow down myself and stick with him so he wouldn’t be going it alone. I was able to work on my conversational pace and really dial back in on my form and not trying to overdo anything or try to race anyone.
My average heart rate throughout was 156 with my max hitting 164. This was only slightly higher than my last run and right in my goal easy run range (hovering between endurance and tempo according to Strava). I’m not putting too much into my heart rate specifically for training but it is another tool in the data toolbelt for monitoring and measuring.
Next week dials the weekly mileage back to 20-23 miles with strides after all but one run. I’m going to take two rest days in a row to recover a bit and hopefully with the few less miles for the week get a bit more recovery before week 5 where the plan starts inserting some workouts instead of just easy runs.
I’ve also ordered a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor in preparation for better tracking for the workouts.