There are 2 places I would consider my happy place. One is on the beach with my toes in the sand, relaxing. The other is running. I’m not picky. I will run on the treadmill, trail, or pavement.
I grew up a soccer player, but hung up my cleats when I was facing my 3rd knee surgery. Then I discovered running. I started with a 4 mile race (with free beer at the end!). Then a 10K, half marathon, and marathon.
I am no stranger to injury. I joke that I got into physical therapy just to treat myself! In fact I completed my 1st marathon with a torn ACL and meniscus. I can remember frequent hamstring strains back in high school. Stopping frequently to stretch on the field.
When I was in physical therapy school I learned that my hamstrings are dominant, and my gluts are weak. For 10 years I have been working on my glut strength, core strength, and hip flexor flexibility. And my pain is significantly better.
Last year I took a continuing education course Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) geared towards running. I learned that by keeping my gaze down I am less likely to be arched in my spine. When your chin juts forward, you loose the connection to your core and diaphragm.
I recently took a course from The Running Clinic. We talked about cadence, barefoot running, and landing softly to reduce the forces on the knee and hip joints, and the lumbar spine. If you land on your heel when running, it is considered overstriding. Overstriding is one reason my hamstring is overactive. Imagine your leg way out in front of you, and your hamstring has to pull it backwards to slow down your leg.
So lets talk about ideal running:
Land on the midfoot or forefoot, so your shin bone is perpendicular to the ground.
Keep a cadence of 180 foot contacts per minute
Run with little to no bounce – you want to propel yourself forward, not upward
Increase training volume by no more than 10% each week to avoid injury.