Running: The Challenge Continues

I feel I owe the readers (both of you) an update. If you’ve read my post from earlier this month entitled Facing the Challenge, you may remember that I am attempting to be an actual runner — at least one who can run for, say, a mile or two, without breaking into a walk, so as not to collapse.

Well, let me tell you, this is a process. Those of you who actually run may be thinking anything from “Yep, it’s a process” or “Yep, it’ll take some time,” to “Oh, for heaven sake, girl! get a grip!” And to you I say, I don’t mean that it’s taking me several weeks to get the hang of it. When I say “process” I mean it just might take the rest of the year before I can comfortably run without walking and without hurting myself. And this is only March! That’s what I mean when I say it’s a process.

So, let’s back up and start where I left off in my previous post. I had almost completed a week of the scheduled run/walk-ing. This schedule I’m following … well, I’m not exactly “following” it, so much. On my own, I’m gradually increasing the running and slightly decreasing the amount of walking. All seemed to be going along swimmingly until Friday of last week, when I noticed with some dismay that my knees were beginning to hurt when I ran. Now, this is one of those things I’ve been quietly dreading. (Hard to believe I can do anything quietly, huh? I know, one of the mysteries of life, I guess. But I digress.)  I’ve actually been suspecting that something like this would come along and derail me. I am, after all, forty-three years old. What was I thinking — running, at MY age!

But then I remembered that a friend who I was actually going to see that night had suffered joint discomfort associated with running. I figured I’d see what she recommended. As it turned out, what she said was not at all what I had expected. She recommended that I run “barefoot.” I was a little taken aback. So, I mentioned that I didn’t feel comfortable running the streets of my neighborhood in bare feet. But she assured me that I could do “barefoot running” without losing the shoes. (To many of you, this is probably not a revelation, but I’ll go into a little more detail for anyone, who, like me, had never heard of this phenomenon.) It’s a style of running, wherein you don’t need expensive running shoes (bonus!) — it can be done in (and I quote) “five dollar water shoes from WalMart.” It has to do with where on your foot you land with each step. When running in bare feet or with minimal foot coverage, you tend to run using a mid- or forefoot strike. And this, reportedly, is why it minimizes the impact to the joints. The calf muscles take the brunt of it, and cushion the joints.

I’m not interested in entering into the debate surrounding this controversial subject, I only wanted to find a style of running that won’t be damaging to my knees in the long-term. So far, it seems to be working well. That is, except that my calves were screaming at me all week — pleading with me to put those blasted sneakers back on and let them die. But I’ve stood firm. Well, sitting is about all I can do firmly this week, though I’m hoping to be making more progress someday. Soon


Post Script. 
Another friend yesterday advised me just to try running an entire mile without stopping. She sounded pretty sure that she thought I could do it. And guess what — I just did! In fact, I just went out and ran an entire two miles! I’m actually pretty excited. Of course, I was running pretty slowly. I mean, if I ran any slower, I’d have been going backward.  But … I did it. Without walking. Yay me!

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