Do you have a tendency to buy the same make of running shoe over and again? Maybe you happened across one brand and style that fits sublimely comfortably, makes you feel like you’re flying…and right from day one doesn’t even give a murmur of a blister…?!?
And so of course you stick with them. And why not!? It’s that old adage: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it…and I wholeheartedly agree with it – find something that works and stick with it.
But have you ever had this happen….? you’ve been wearing your favourite go-fasters, week after week after week, and maybe you’ve picked up your distance during that time -or perhaps you’ve been training for a particular race… and then this happens:
The latest model comes along and you upgrade. Consequently you ditch the has-beens and you’re all set and off you go in the sparkly new ones… and then sometime soon afterwards, you get an injury.
Running was going nice and smoothly. You were making progress and getting fitter and then bang! Same make of trainers, and now you’re scuppered!
So what the crazy heck has happened!?
The Ruts in the Road
Well, I often talk about the ruts in the road. Not because I’m some covert, disgruntled engineer, but because it’s a great analogy to our body. And particularly to our ‘running body’ at that…
When we wear-in a particular pair of shoes – our pumps in this case – the cushioning moulds into our gait, and how we distribute our weight through the foot (and consequently up through our body…). The more we do a particular movement, the more we repeat the pattern… and the more we repeat the pattern in the same way, the greater that habit becomes.
And this is where the ruts in the road come in – our repeated movement patterns are like us travelling down one of those old country farm lanes (you know the ones that are actually just muddy tracks which are so worn down either side that tuffs of grass growing down the middle…?! You know the sort…).
The more we drive down that lane, the deeper the ruts become; we are driving over the very same path over and over and over again. But because the ruts are already established, we continue to drive down them over and over; they’re the path of least resistance for us..
And the more worn they become, the harder it is to carve new tracks…and why would we want to when we can follow the easy route…?
So our movement patterns become like those ruts in the road…and in particular when we wear in a pair of trainers, we literally carve our ruts into the lovely cushioning that they provide…
And when we come to change them for brand spank new ones, there are no ruts in these new trainers. It’s like getting right onto a hard tarmaced surface… it might feel fabulously smooth (and as if you’re bouncing on springs – which can be a great feeling!), but funnily enough, our bodies are not like cars…
When we’re used to the ruts in the road, and our bodies are loading in the old familiar patterns…when you suddenly put your body into a whole new ball game – and with the resistance of those hard cushioned soles! – and ask it to perform that repeated action of running, it is not going to like it!
All of those places where you comfortably loaded before – well all of a sudden you’re asking your body to load in a different way. Asking tissues that were bypassed in the worn pumps to suddenly do a job…
And this ‘over-loading’ will then start to show up as pain. Our old imperfections will be brought to the surface, leading us down the injury slope…
So the solution? Well you might think that I’m going to rattle off about changing your footwear every 500 miles…or whatever the big, rich manufacturers suggest you do, but I’m not.
(Ever wondered why they’re big and rich manufacturers…?!?)
Instead I’m going to offer you three other ways to mitigate against the ruts on the road showing up painfully next time you change your tyres…
Variable Options 1, 2 & 3
- Add variability into your running. This might mean running regularly on different surfaces… Or it might mean using different pumps for different runs. Or it might even, if you’re feeling particularly crazy…start taking your runners off at the end of your run…*
* Do this piecemeal, and do it on the park or around a field, I’d suggest…
- Learn how to move better in your running. This will provide you the option to move with variability – and to get out of the ruts in your road (before they lead to overload!). You may want to take the Movement Analysis sessions where you’ll learn how to add subtle changes into your running which leads to optimal movement patterns and to more options. Or get on the Accessing Running Magic online course, where you’ll learn how to look after yourself from start to finish in your running.
- Move your joints differently. Go to yoga. Join a class, or subscribe online to someone like ekhartyoga.com and get moving in your front room…
Yoga is a brilliant way to expand your range of movement in your joints.
Increased range of movement with give you options.
And options offer themselves to variability.
Ultimately, it’s variability in your joints, tissues and your movement patterns which will keep you on your pins for longer, pain-free and happy… : )