Tag Archives: Born to Run

Running Past 50…and without injury ;-)

Ida Keeling, 95 yo–Fastest running nonagenarian: kick it sista!

So, I’ve got another birthday coming next week which will officially make me an old lady…sorta. It’s all in one’s mind, right?  I’m going surfing for my birthday, so I’m guessing my mind is unawares of the milestone before me.

I got to thinking the other day during a quick morning run that I’ve been running now for about six years, steadily. Some days more, some days less.  Some days hills, some days flat waterfront.  All days involve an attuned awareness that I ain’t no spring chick, and if I want to run again tomorrow, I need to pay attention to my path today.  I’ve got a weird chronic thing with my feet, it’s not fasciitis, and as bad as it gets, it’s always back to normal the next day, but that’s about all.  So, pushing a little, paying attention, pacing…it’s works for me.

I don’t know many runners who haven’t had injuries of one kind or another.  I know a lot of runners that have stopped running because of injuries.  So, on the eve of another milestone,  I just want put it out there: First, do no harm and Second, live to run another day.  Anyone else out there balancing runs with the goal of running injury-free same time next year?  I’m sort of tempting fate by even writing this, and if I do injure myself, it will be an interesting path to deal and heal, yes?

 

Nice article on running, injuries, sport, and those funny shoes that look like lizard feet

Good article in the New Yorker that reviews the short, brilliant careers of a couple of marathoners, and the propensity for injury in the sport.  Born to Run is an easy read that skewers modern running shoe companies, and perhaps for very good reason.  Heel strike runners sustain more injuries than any other style…but as the article points out, the complexity of running, the way you hold your head, swing your arms, clench or relax your hands…on and on…all these things impact your body in a run.

Take a look at the Running Life blog post here, good quick read.

Runnus Interuptus

running yogini

Last summer we did a very ambitious overhaul of our garage and living spaces…re-org and clean out, renovation and remodel.  It was hugely successful and we so enjoy the many fruits of our many labors.  But….

The old bod took a beating in the process.  We had an improbable time-frame to deal with, and big big plans…I was so exhausted physically that running took a back seat.  Everything did, actually, at least for a while.

It took a long time to recover from that and some things–a weird ping in my shoulder, that little curve in my back never came back like it was–were just not right thereafter.

Recently I’ve had the insight to return to yoga…I used to be hard core about yoga until running slowly took precedence, finally beating it out entirely as my preferred activity.  Mistake, that.  I was so stiff after that summer project–and it just never seemed to get much better.

Running and yoga sometimes don’t work  so well together.  Sometimes those muscles you’re stretching like so much warm taffy actually work better when they’re a little less flexible, or little more taut. But I felt like the magic of yoga was likely going to be the only thing to get me back in my body, so I began practicing daily. It felt so good, it hurt like hell.  At the same time I’ve cut down my runs to about 25 minutes–good little runs, some hills, interesting paths–but not too strenuous.

When I get back, I do 25 to 50 minutes of yoga to follow on the run.  It’s working–that’s the big news.  I’m actually starting to feel right in my body again, and am going to continue this approach for a month.  I don’t run every day, usually every other day, but I do do yoga everyday.

It’s good.  Sometimes the same old routine just doesn’t cut it, and you need to reboot, as it were.  I’ll be back to my old running routine by Spring, I think,  but in the meantime, yoga is working its magic.

Running after 50: this is some crazy shit.

So, I’ve written before about my trials and tribulations with heel pain and such. I’ve written about the question of shoes, no shoes–Chi Running and the fantastic you’ve-got-to-read-this book Born to Run. I tried barefoot running and was amazed to feel the difference, it really grabbed my attention–but basically barefoot running is out of the question where I live.  It just didn’t seem a reasonable idea.

I have been struggling with heel lifts prescribed by a podiatrist, stretches, running shorter, running on soft ground…all kinds of things, with pretty underwhelming results. I was  And then a friend dropped by a month ago or so wearing what looked like old fashion tennis shoes.  Low heel, minimal support or construction–very simple.  I asked him about it and he said he loved them–wore them for traveling because they’re light and could run in them as well.

not the prettiest shoe, but simple, easy, lightweight, low impact

The simplicity of this shoe got me to thinking. And thinking about the premise of Born to Run–that our over-architected shoes are damaging our feet and making running a lot harder than it really is.   So, I researched the retro shoes that are coming back on the market and gave one pair a shot.  I ordered Asics Tigers and when I got them, I was dubious.

There was practically nothing to them–they were flimsy, lightweight, they almost felt too cheap–how could I run in these?  So I didn’t.  I just lived in them for a few days, and I have to say: my feet were happier than they’ve been in a long time.  So it was time to take them on the road…

I did short runs at first, and found that even though I felt a little vulnerable in them, I enjoyed my runs more.  I stayed with short runs for a couple of weeks–low hills, mostly flat, easy stuff.  And then last week, for some reason, I decided it was time to test these puppies out–I was feeling good in them.  My feet felt strong, balance was good, I felt light on my feet.  So I did one of my more ambitious routes, one I rarely do anymore but I like.  I ran for 45 minutes, doing hills and trails, and felt like I could have gone further.  A few days later, I ran for an hour and the next day, my feet, though tired, did not feel damaged.  In fact, considering the work out, I think they felt pretty good.

In the meantime, I heard McDougall on NPR talking about Born to Run.  At one point the interviewer asks: so really, what’s the secret.  Are shoes (or no shoes) that important?  Yes, he says, it’s not magic.  We really were born to run.  Our feet are amazing.  Our feet adjust to our needs, our over-architechted shoes are doing serious damage.  (check out his blog here)

I’ve never run an hour like this; I actually felt like I could have put in another chunk of time.  But the more I thought about it, the more it sort of made sense: I grew up wearing flip-flops.  I never wore these over-architected tennis shoes until I was in my 50′s.  I don’t have structural problems, my stride and strike are both neutral.  I have duck feet–meaning thin heel, big toe box–that do better when I’m striking on the ball rather than the heel…so, if the shoe is made to strike the heel, it’s going to hurt, right?  Right.

Well, the experiment continues…All I can say is that I’m amazed.  Running has taken on a whole new dimension for me.  Oh, and I forgot to mention–I wore my regular Adidas shoes the other day and could barely finish 20 minutes.  I had shooting pains in my heels and felt like I was running with big boxes on my feet–it was insane.  So, I’ll post again in a month and update with news.  Later gators.

Running past 50: 3 great points

I received a comment the other day (from Reva) on a Running past 50 post I wrote a while back, and really appreciated it so thought I’d share it with you all:

I am a 57 year old female and have been running, on the treadmill for about 9 months. The last time I ran seriously was in high school, many moons ago. I began running because of health related issues: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, over-weight not wanting to be medicated the rest of my life. Plus I wanted to live to dance at my grandson’s weddings.
I run on the average of 2-3 miles at least 5 days a week, and guess what? I am beginning to find myself addicted to running. One of my solstice goals this year is to run a half marathon. I’m on the verge of believing I can do it. Recently I have begun running on the treadmill barefoot and found my endurance improve and I do not need to hold onto the sides of the treadmill, not once. Within the next few weeks I will be taking a step outdoors and try trail running with my son. (I am blessed to have 40 acres behind my property that is wild) I am looking forward to more adventure, and better scenery than stored boxes in the garage.
I have also found that doing a little yoga, sun salutations, help in the ache department. One thing I have noticed since I started running is my hips do not hurt half as much, in fact I have stopped taking the ibuprofen. Part of the running barefoot is to see if I can eliminate the pain by ibuprofen on the balls of my feet instead of the heels. It’s working. I’m glad to hear others in my age category are learning to enjoy the movement of our bodies in the form of running. Thanks for a great blog.
You go, girl!  I thought of you yesterday during my run and your goal of a half-M actually inspired a little spurt of energy in me, thanks!  I tend to think of Jan/Feb as the “slack tide” time of year–that in-between period, not the bluster and blow of Autumn, not the urgent push of Spring, just a
quiet time; drawing some energy from Reva’s goal was a good thing.
There were three things about this comment that I found of real interest:
  1. Take back your power: sometimes this notion gets a little overblown and we think it needs to mean something huge.  Not so.  In this case, the 57 yo woman looked at the trends in her life–high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a little more weight than she wanted–and she decided to make some changes.  That’s it right there: take an inventory and adjust as needed.  That’s how you take your power back, and it’s enlivening, and it’s difficult, and it’s one of the few things worth doing on a continual basis.  Whether it’s running, or acting on that impulse to dance or learn to cook or take up photography, or even just change how you get to work, really, these things light up your brain.
  2. Start small and build from there: seems to me the best way to guarantee you won’t go as far as you can is to go too fast too soon. You’ll likely hurt yourself, set the bar too high and disappoint yourself, judge yourself too harshly…the list goes on.  A better path would be one where you set out to explore, just investigate what this running is all about.  Keep it short and simple, be aware, enjoy yourself and let your body do the rest. After all, this is a new thing for the old bod to adjust to–give it time, and it will not disappoint.
  3. Partner with your body: Reva has done several things of real interest in her exploration of running.  She’s kicked off her shoes and run barefoot!  She’s incorporating yoga, she’s moving from the treadmill to trails (huge difference!), she’s paying close attention to how her body responds.  Personally, I’d love to know how she came to the barefoot idea as I worked with that this summer and have found significant benefits to running barefoot, as well as letting my tennis shoes break down and the muscles in my feet build up.  But the point is: work with your body.  Those articles in Runner’s World mag, everything they tell you at the local running store, the stuff you find in blogs and whatever—all good and well, but bottom line, experiment and investigate with your own body–you’ll know soon enough what works, what doesn’t, what’s worth short-term discomfort for long-term gain, etc.
This past year marks my second year of running consistently outside; I didn’t realize that until I read my journal summary of 2008–when I quit the gym treadmill for streets, parks, trails, sidewalks. This past year also marks some significant changes in how I run and think about running:
  • it’s now an embedded part of my life.  Some days I resist it, most days it’s a high point of the day.
  • I believe as the title of the book suggests that we really are Born to Run.
  • Hills are where it’s at.  That surprises and pleases me since I live in a very hilly part of town, and I previously shunned them for an easier flat run.
  • Since hills are where it’s at, I also tend to take walk breaks–very short, but still…I used to judge myself about that, but now I just enjoy the hills and take a breather as needed.
  • I run a little slower, but I run a lot longer.  My body seems to like this a lot.

I’ve received a number of comments from women who are taking up running later in life and want to say: Thanks!  I love hearing about your adventures, tips and tricks.  Happy New Year and see you out on the trails!

Happy New Year!

Running past 50: still going….

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….

Yesterday I went for a quick run that ended up lasting an hour.  It’s not like I haven’t run for an hour before, but I’ve only run for an hour or more when I was trying to reach a goal.  Yesterday….ahh, yesterday I just kept running because it felt so damn good, because the day was brilliant bright and chilly, because within running distance of my house I have two parks with excellent running trails ready and waiting, because the music on my shuffle was superb….it just all came together for an awsome run that just kept on dishing up great views, good trails, and winter endorphins.

Towards the end of the run, as I headed down to the path along the waterfront, the view revealed itself: sun blazing, glinting on the water, the snow on the Olympics bright and beautiful, it all took my breath away to a degree I nearly started to cry–it was all so perfectly unexpected.

Now today I look out the window and see the sun starting to burn the fog off the Salish Sea and think: wow, it would be so cool to have that run again!

But it doesn’t work that way, and I know it.  Every time I’ve tried to recreate a particularly fabulous run, or surf experience, or dinner date, or just about anything that peaks in a surprisingly wonderful way, it backfires.  It just doesn’t work.  Who knows all the ways and reasons something comes together in every way now and then?

So, I’ll probably head out today, and will probably start on the same route, and will probably have a secret wish in the back of my head that today’s run will be as good as yesterday’s, but bottom line: just run.  That’s all.  And be grateful every step for good health and a lucky life.

Oh and one last thing: after several months working on my stride, following the tips in Born to Run, the last week I’ve really started to notice a change: I have long stretches of running like a kid, back straight with weight forward on the mid to upper part of my feet, arms loose and pumping.  And guess what, even after a long run, the next day my heels are not bothering me so much at all.

Also, I’ve let my tennis shoes break down and taken the little wedge out of the heel…this summer I practiced running barefoot, doing laps around the soccer field in the park.  I have to believe it’s working: the coordinating muscles in my feet are super strong, taking some of the stress off my heels!

Born to Run is on my top 10 list of books this year, for sure.