By Jen Perrault
The Fall weather is here. In my running season, this means base training and putting in mileage. As an 800m runner, how I define mileage may differ from how you define mileage. During base training, we are out running various trails and at local parks in Ottawa. Last week, we had a practice that involved running 500m segments of a trail, with short rest in between repetitions. During these segments, we had to veer right as we rounded the trail on our 500m effort. Asking a track athlete to turn right is like asking a hockey player to play in figure skates, it’s extremely awkward and feels foreign.
As I struggled in asking my body to turn right for a change, I began to think about how linear running is, over any distance. From the 60m sprinter to the ultra marathoner, running consists of moving in a fairly straight line. A common saying in Track and Field is “run hard, turn left”. There is little demand for lateral agility or quick movements to the left or right in running. I do not believe that the linear nature of running has to be viewed in a negative light. The key to running over any distance is being efficient, and when done properly it can look fluid, effortless and quite beautiful. Much more aesthetically pleasing than contact sports, but that’s just my biased opinion.
Beyond feeling awkward when asked to take a sharp right, the linear nature of our sport can cause muscle imbalances. It is important to compensate for these imbalances with general strength training and flexibility. There are many programs catered to runners such as yoga for runners or strength training for runners. The owner of Foot Tools, John Lawson, is very aware of how linear running is. Come by the store for more information on ensuring you have the proper strength and flexibility to handle running. This is especially important during base training, when the mileage is building. Foot Tools offers foam rollers and other products to prevent injury. If you’re looking to get strong, talk to John Lawson about signing up for strength sessions. Taking action to compensate for the linear nature of running could be the difference between an injury ridden year of running or an injury free year of running.