I've dreamed of running, quite literally. I've had several powerful dreams of me running easily and freely on wide paths through grassy hills. In these dreams, my feet feel light and my gait is springy and I can hear the sounds of nature around me. I can feel that I'm expending energy, but I'm not getting exhausted.
I've also had waking thoughts of taking up running before, most notably several years ago when I had a rough go with plantar fasciitis in both feet. At that time, being able to move pain-free was a strong motivator but I was limited by the fact that I was hobbling more than I was walking. By the time I'd stretched, yoga'd, massaged and walked my feet out of pain, the motivation to run had turned into a motivation to hike in the woods.
The reality of my first run last night was in all ways entirely unlike my dreams. I wasn't moving easily and freely. I wasn't even running most of the time. (I'm doing a Couch to 5K program that starts with 60 seconds of running alternated with 90 seconds of walking, repeated for 20 minutes.) I certainly wasn't hearing much of nature over my breathing and the sound of my feet on the sidewalk. And I was definitely getting exhausted.
The first couple of running intervals were especially ugly. I ran like a duck -- landing on my whole flat foot all at once with a nasty jolt and a slapping sound. I was waddling and my
wings arms were flapping around awkwardly. "As graceful and easy as a running duck" is not a phrase you're ever likely to hear, let me just say.
I figured out pretty quickly that I could run better if I moved my weight forward a bit so that I landed on the balls of my feet rather than flat-footed. That gave me more of my dream-stride -- it seemed lighter and springier. I even seemed to use less energy that way.
Until my shins started hurting.
I always get shin pain when I walk too fast, so I don't think this had anything to do with impact from running -- my shins get sore from holding my toes up so I can walk without dragging the ground. Or something like that. Apparently there are shin muscles (who knew? I thought it was all just bone there) and mine are Not Strong.
Both the pain and the duck-running are signs that I need help with form. After I got home, I asked (and looked online) for advice and have learned two things, both of which appear to be held with religious fervor by People Who Run:
- It is imperative for good running form and avoiding injury that you land heel-first when running.
- It is imperative for good running form and avoiding injury that you land on the mid-foot (ball of the foot) when running.
In the absence of a consensus on this issue, I'm going to work on landing on the balls of my feet on the grounds that it actually felt better as I was doing it.
My next run will be Saturday or Sunday (depending on weather). Goal for the run: No ducks.
Note: GIF from giphy.com, not mine and I claim no credit.