Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Do you know too much?

There I was, an hour from home dressed for a speed run, standing on the side of the dirt road right before the trail started. I had 3 choices and each choice was about 3.5 miles, so I was in the middle, at an intersection of choices... but I was hurting, bad. Wick away t-shirt, track tempo skimpy shorts, shoes and a knife... no gloves, hat, etc. I was loaded for speed.

I'm not some dainty little runner, I'm 190 pounds of 'oh crap I hope I can stop when I run downhill so I don't slide off the cliff and die'. 190 pounds is a lot to pound on almost daily and it apparently caught up to me last night. I started off really fast, my body started to complain and then felt great, but a little ways down the road I realized something was wrong. My left shin was hurting like shin splints had set in to the point I couldn't put any weight on it without seeing stars. My pain tolerance is very high, so there was a lot of pain... it was getting cold and dark fast.

Each time you put your foot down, you usually take the same kind of step (foot strike), middle, back, front, side, etc. You can look at your shoes and see the wear on your soles and it's pretty easy to figure out what kind of step you take. I'm pretty flat, so it's a lot of pounding each time and when I head downhill it's more of a back to front. This uses a lot of energy, since you actually slow down when your foot hits on the back and then propel yourself as you step off, and this uses the most muscles out of any srike. The best downhill runners are front foot runners, they run on their toes, this keeps the momentum going so they are almost falling down the hill with each step simply keeping them from falling. A front foot strike is sort of leaping with each step as if you were bounding from rock to rock in a field... you leap off your toes and land on your toes.

Depending on the type of step you take, different muscle groups will work for that type of step. Some work the whole leg, some work the calf, some work the shin area... high stepping works the thighs but is useless unless it's deep snow, no snow means you are working hip flexors (and looking sillier than normal).

I like to think I know a lot of things, most of it useless, but I don't think you can ever know too much. You never know when odd information might come in handy... like when you are in pain on the side of a road debating search and rescue or a long painful walk in the dark, in the cold with skimpy 'look how fast I'm NOT running' clothes on. This is when your mind starts to work trying to find a solution from all the the useless knowledge you have.

Since I knew a lot about steps, muscles, strides, foot strike, etc. I chose the steepest route home. This would have been the worst route to pick from had I tried to run or even walk normally. I shortened my stride and ran on my toes, and used a lot of different leg muscles that normal. 40 minutes later I was home. Had I walked the easiest route it wold have taken me about 90 minutes and since that route is iced over at night I would have probably slipped and hurt other things. I couldn't have run on my toes unless it was a steep downhill, if you try then you simply jam your legs with each step and that won't last long.

So now everyone has some useless information that might help them out one day. I'm heading to a CPR class to refresh some other useless information that might save someone, someday. Plus I get to make out with a plastic person.

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