Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ask the Banter- Noisy Running

One of my work colleagues is a recent runner convert. I have known her for about a decade now and appreciate her wit and intelligence.

Lately, I have noticed a change in her demeanor and her, um, form. She has clearly been working out. Not only has she started running but she has also competed in several of those adventure mud run thingies.  Her efforts have not been wasted.

She came to me with a question.

Dear Banter,

My husband tells me that I make a lot of noise while running. We think that I need to work on my running technique. He says that I'm smacking my feet when I run and that's not good. Is there anything that you can do to help me run quieter and improve my technique?
There's a lot going on in this message. First, I want to tell you that she is Deaf. This fact has absolutely nothing to do with her running status but everything to do with a sensitivity to noise. Especially when her non-running husband, who is not Deaf, tells her that she's making too much noise. How can she argue with that?

Second, because she is not a native runner and neither is her husband, they are suggesting that there's a problem in her running technique. Their evidence? Loud running.

Now, I'm gonna let you in on a secret that the coaches and the shoe companies don't want you to know. Should this secret get out, their businesses could be ruined (or at least marginally impacted).


There is no such thing as perfect running technique. At least, not in the traditional sense.

A lot of this nonsense got started when the sports scientist experts started analyzing the movements of the best runners on the planet. They were hoping to find the aspects that they all had in common. Or, at least most of them had in common anyway. Here's a short list of what they found:
Suddenly all of the athletic-based magazines started citing these studies and developing workouts to make you more like the pros. They have drills. And videos. And fixes. Basically, they tell you that you and your current running form are a disgrace and they want to help fix you. (Not once did they focus on noise.)

The magazines failed because, sorry, you are not a pro. Chances are that you are not even close to pro level. Most pros don't work on their form. At least, not in the traditional sense. Also, the pros were tested in race-ready conditions. They had trained for years before this experiment and they were running at top speeds. On the contrary, you and I are comparative slugs only run a margin of their speed and distance. There's absolutely no way we could mimic their conditions. What to do?

Here's the thing- your brain is really smart. In fact, it's smarter than you. It has multitasking capabilities that put the latest Apple product to shame. Your brain senses the environment at a split second rate and makes minor changes to how you land, lean, breathe, and virtually everything else while still giving you the opportunity to ogle the hottie.

Translation: your brain has a pretty good idea as to what the best running form is for you even if you have no clue. The best running form being the one that keeps you moving without injury. And, what works for you may not work for me.

If you really want to work on your running technique, there's only one sure fire way to do this: Run more. Pay attention here, I'm not advocating making vast changes to your routine in any way. I think that the 10% rule is pretty good. I.E. Only increase your weekly mileage by, at most, 10% more than last week's (the 5% rule might even be better). Breaking up your mileage over 6 days a week is better than running 3 days per week at the same total distance. You don't need to consciously change your technique. It happens automatically.

The more you run, the more your super brain has a chance to read and pay attention to your form. It will make the necessary changes for you, leaving you with ample opportunity to ogle the hottie (you do like your hotties). Even better, it will make those changes slowly over time. Slowly over time reduces your chances for injury and increases your ability to continue running. Which will lead to more running. Which will lead to better technique. And the cycle continues. You will naturally develop a technique that matches your anatomy and running habits.

Here are some direct running related Q&As:
  • Should you focus on run technique? No. Just run
  • Should you run more than you are running now? Probably.
  • Should you work on your running cadence? Probably not.
  • Should you work on foot striking? Doubtful.
  • Should you run faster? Only if you want to run faster.
  • Should you continue to read this blog? Religiously.
  • Will losing weight help you to be a better runner? Most likely.
  • Will lifting weights help you to be a better runner? Most likely not.
  • Should you lift weights anyway? There are non-running benefits to weight training. Up to you.
  • What should you do about your husband when he tells you that you are running too loud? Get a new husband. Or buy him a set of these.
Now, go run.

No comments:

Post a Comment