Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kick High. Look Funny.

Has it really been two weeks since my last post? It's been a busy two weeks and I'll post more about it soon.

This past Sunday I went for my 5k run early in the morning. It was the day after a 39-mile ride with a bike club and I had a 29-mile ride planned for right after the run. I used the Garmin's pace-alert feature for the first time while running. Things were going fine until just after 2 miles into the run when I felt my right tibialis flaking out on me. This had not happened for a while. I did not think my form was so great on this run and this soreness kinda confirmed it. I stopped, rubbed it a bit, and after a short rest I started up again but this time I really exaggerated my form. Soon, I kept saying to myself, "Kick high. Look funny." Over and over.

A bit of background: One of my earliest posts discussed a problem I had with my tibialis, which is the muscle by your shins. This is not shin splints. It's a burning feeling like I'm using the muscle too much, then the muscle gives out and I can't lift up my foot anymore. When I started running again this past February, the problem came back right away. After a few more sessions I got really frustrated and scoured the internet in earnest for a solution.

I looked and looked but could not find anything. This led me to the nearly-inescapable conclusion that it was just me. I had to do some thinking. If it was just me then it was something I was doing wrong. Well, if the muscle feels like it's been used to much then maybe, just maybe, I was using it too much. It's thinking like that that got me SAT scores higher than the previous President's (to be fair, they were also higher than Al Gore's).

How to stop using that muscle so much? Think. Well, in the few pictures of me running as an adult, I always looked like I was walking (alas, no pictures of me on the cross country team in high school). Perhaps if I put some spring in my step and kicked my heel up a bit after pushing off I wouldn't have to use the tibialis so much?

I put the plan in action and it did seem to work. In the pictures of me running at my first triathlon I actually looked like I was running instead of walking. However, it made running somewhat less fun because I had to think about form so much. Last Sunday showed me that I'm not out of the woods yet, though. In the future I am going to have to chant my mantra, "Kick high. Look funny." over and over until it becomes second nature. I may think I look funny (in truth I probably look less funny than before when I was shuffling along) but screw it. It's how I'm going to become (somewhat of) a runner again.

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