Back to running, with better understanding

I went running this morning, repeating C25K Week 2, Day 1, after a three week break. I was having a lot of pain in my feet and ankles after completing Week 3, and decided to take a week off — which turned into two and then three weeks before my feet stopped hurting.

I made some mistakes in my first attempt at C25K in my FiveFingers that I think I’ll be able to avoid the second time around.

The biggest one was just plain overdoing things. I’m new to running, so I was training feet, legs, and lungs all pretty strongly. I got all excited about exercise and activity and went on a 6.5 mile hike in FiveFingers after a week of running during which I’d begun to get sore. That pushed things over the edge, and in retrospect, reminds me of one of the early weeks of Waves to Wine training in 2008. I went farther than the schedule said (because it felt fine at the time) and then felt exhausted and sore for three days.

During the time off, I realized I was using my feet to absorb most of the shock of landing. I was walking downstairs one day and noticed a huge difference in the amount of force on my feet if I absorbed the jolting with my leg muscles instead of my feet. Apparently, I can get away with this while walking in FiveFingers, but not while running in them. My leg muscles, it turns out, are not thrilled about this change.

I also became very aware while running today that I’m still pronating my feet, which tends to direct pain to the outsides of my ankles in a funny way. I’ve been aware of this tendency since I had a bout of foot pain in 2004, and have been trying to counteract it, but I found that it was particularly difficult to do when I got tired and when the ground was very soft. Feeling too tired for good form should have been a big clue to mistake #1.

I haven’t always taking time to stretch and do muscle maintenance after running. My calves got overworked and tight, which certainly exacerbated, and may have caused, the foot and ankle pain.

Finally, it turns out that I feel a lot better running in my Sprints than I do in the KSOs. I started out in the KSOs because it was cold and wet outside and the Sprints tend not to keep my feet warm. But the Sprints seem to be more comfortable for running, at least right now. Not surprising, since that’s what they are supposed to be for.

Today’s run, on much firmer, drier ground using Sprints, was definitely much more comfortable than the first iteration of W2D1, which took place on a cold, rainy, windy morning, on sploshy ground, in KSOs. I’m hoping that can continue, although it doesn’t look like the weather is planning to cooperate on the “firmer, drier” point!

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