After this advice I completed my first 10km trail run
At my age (72 this year), and having only been running for a couple of years, there are regular aches and niggles that come with the pleasure of running.
I consulted my podiatrist about pains in the balls of my feet and right hip, and she gave me some great tips which solved those problems.
I've been trail running regularly for a little over two years. I started with a couple of kilometres twice a week, and eventually was comfortably running 5km twice a week.
In the week of Xmas last year - 2019 - I wondered what it would feel like to run every day, so I set out to run 4km every day.
It's summer down here and very nice running on the trail around dawn. For one thing, there aren't so many people and dogs to have to sidestep.
Failed to make 10km - twice
I was conscious of a few moving parts not getting enough rest and recovery, so I stopped after 8 weeks. I enjoyed the experience.
Feeling fit and aerobically fabulous, I decided to attempt 10km.
Twice I failed.
I went out too fast, and also I had movement pains after about 7km that became quite strong. I made it to 7.2km on my first run and 8.8km on the second.
The most intense pains were at the ball of my right foot, and the outside of my right hip.
I had rolled my left ankle on the trail about three months before. Running fast, I had stepped on a tree root that I didn't spot in time.
The pain was excruciating, and I couldn't walk on my left foot for a week. I thought that I would never run again. I did, after 6 weeks.
Therefore, I figured that probably my right leg was still compensating for the injury to my left ankle.
The best thing to do - book a consultation with my podiatrist.
Otherwise, I might never get to complete 10km without injuring myself more.
Tip #1 Don't let your head slump when tiring
Here are three valuable insights she gave me.
1. Be more aware of becoming tired and allowing your head to slump
Her advice was that the pain in the ball of my right foot was most likely because I was tiring, and slumping, and pushing more weight forward of my centre of gravity. This put more pressure on the ball of my foot.
Solution: Be conscious of tiring, and if you cannot maintain your posture, then stop or slow right down to a jog.
Tip #2 Reduce the length of the stride to reduce shocks in the knees and hips
The pain in my right hip was most likely because I was extending my stride too far, and causing heel-strikes. The shock of heel-strikes has to be absorbed by our knees and hips.
Solution: Reduce your stride length and land more on the mid to fore-foot. This is going to be more comfortable, and reduce the impact at the hip.
Running this way will also allow the Achilles tendon to absorb more of the landing force as your ankle bends forward. The energy stored in the Achilles tendon will then propel your forward motion which will make your running more efficient.
She also mentioned that landing too far ahead will slow you down as your momentum has to carry you over that forward "hump" on every step. You'll be using more energy compared to someone running with a shorter stride.
Tip #3 Keep the top of your hips up and back
Her third tip was related to "not slumping" (above) - but concerning the bottom of the spine, not the top. She said not to let the top of your hip roll forward.
If you let the top of your hip roll forward, then you have to use more energy to properly position your feet for every step. You also use more energy to propel your body forward on every step. That's a double whammy.
What this means is that you will become fatigued more quickly, and that leads to other problems with posture and form as noted earlier. It also means that you are unnecessarily wasting energy.
Solution: Look up and maintain and feel the top of your hip sitting in a natural upright position. Look at the tops of the trees as you run, not down at the trail.
These tips helped me make my first 10km
These insights worked for me
I have applied all her tips, and they helped me run further with fewer aches and pains.
The weekend following the consultation, I completed my first ever 10km run. Happy days.
Hopefully, the tips will help you run further, better and more comfortably.
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter