A couple weeks ago, a blog reader (thank you Rock, Paper, Scissors!) recommended a book to me. The book was Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
Obviously, it's a book about running. But it isn't a 'buy this shoe, pump your arms this way, run at this speed' type of book. The book covers the art of ultra marathons, ultra marathon runners, and how the evolution of society and it's approach to running and running gear has affected all of us. Any more detail and I may as well read the book to you. :)
I couldn't put it down, because Christopher McDougall ended up writing the book based on what seems like a really simple question - 'why does my foot hurt?'. Exactly! My question is this: why is it so difficult for me to run?
I don't think running an ultra marathon is the answer for me - heck, I'd drop dead at a mile, I'm pretty sure. But reading about stride and the way a human foot is designed to fall when running has made me much more aware of how I run (which is very, very badly).
Last week, I was waiting for S to get out of ballet class and a high school team was running on the indoor Y track. Since I was sitting on the floor against the wall wasting time, I ended up watching the way the kids were running. The fastest runner had a distinct stride: body straight up and down (head, shoulders, back, and hips in alignment), arms pumping, with legs that kicked back (to propel him forward) instead of stretching out in front (to pull him forward). This runner was a tall, thin teenager and running for him looked not only effortless, it looked like fun. A lot of fun.
There was a wide variety of other runners, other strides, other whatevers, but the fast ones ran like McDougall describes as 'natural' in the book. Which is the same way the top runner in the group last week ran
Me? I run like a lumbering oaf trying to drag a wagon full of rocks through a swamp. Slow. Inefficient. Laboring. Could changing the way I run improve my running?
Let's find out. Come back next Wednesday and see if I've made any progress. But if I ever even vaguely insinuate that I'd like to run an ultra marathon, someone please find me and smack some sense into me.