By trying to run more efficiently lately, I've been putting my body at greater risk. I ran nearly six miles this morning at Griffith Park with my buddy John and Coach Gerardo. I received some valuable instruction on my forefoot striking experiment, mainly that I've been trying too hard to avoid heel contact on the strike. This can cause extra strain in the Achilles and knees, as well as the foot itself. Good thing Gerardo joined me.
I also need to work on kicking my heels up higher, which will activate my hamstring muscles more. Currently, I'm shuffling too much, which I had no idea I was doing. Of course, it's hard to run behind yourself and see these things. One more reason that having a coach makes a lot of sense.
This was John's first time running with Gerardo, and in his words, he had a mental record button just listening to the two of us talk about training, diet, and technique. It felt good knowing that we were helping John improve even if it was coming at the expense of my trying to break bad habits. Bad habits I hope John doesn't have to experience for himself.
One downside that I noticed to running with my friends today was that I ran a little harder than what my workout called for. I was supposed to stay in zone 2 heart rate but was usually in the low zone 3 range. What's worse though is that now my zone 3, with my new running style, means I'm running 9:30-minute miles. That's terrible for me! Last year I was running 8:00-8:15-minute miles regularly en route to my 1:45 Surf City Half Marathon.
I never expected proper form and technique would actually make me slower. Part of me just wants to go back to running the way I used to. But I know I need to be thinking of the long-term here, so I'll keep leaning forward at the ankles and pushing ahead. Slowly.
160 days and counting.