REAL LIFE RUNNERS PODCAST: EPISODE #270 – 90 Day Goals (Transcript)
ANGIE: Alright, so as a physical therapist, I have seen or talked to a lot of runners who come to me and they want me to analyze their running form. They ask me about gait analysis and all of the fun things, right? Because a lot of times when runners experience injury, they often blame their running form and they want to correct it, right? They see like, well, something is wrong here I, it must be my running form. I better go see a physical therapist and have them corrected, right?
KEVIN: Because if there's a magic fix for their full and then fix everything else, they think that the the running form is the first of the dominos that everything else will then fall into place.
ANGIE: Right, and they're not wrong and like, because I shouldn't say they're not wrong, because that's kind of the point of this episode. Right. But I I what I wanted to say is I can understand why they think that way, right? Because there is a lot of information out there about running form and about the importance of running form and so those of you that are like wait a second Angie, you're a physical therapist and you're telling me that my running form is not the problem? I'm confused, right? Because a lot of physical therapists out there very well-meaning physical therapists. Like when you go to see them, one of the first things they want to do is a gay analysis, right? They want to watch you run and they should watch you run. I 100% agree with that. Like when you go see a physical therapist, especially if you are in pain or have an injury. If your physical therapist does not watch you run, you need to leave and go find another physical therapist. OK, so your PT should for sure watch you run because by watching you run we can kind of key in on a lot of different issues and see potential problems and potential causes for the pain or the injury that you're experiencing. However, that doesn't mean that we should immediately go to correcting your running form. OK, I like to look at people, gape and analyze their gate in order to give me clues at like what muscles might be weak, what strength would, what muscles do I need to strengthen, you know, how are they holding themselves? How are they breathing? What's there posture like? There's so many things that I can get from a gait analysis and so I am definitely not knocking gait analysis. Gait analysis is very a very, very useful tool if you know what you're doing and if you know what you're looking for but it might not be that you're running form is the exact problem it your running form a lot of times I like to think of it as kind of it's kind of like the the symptom of what's actually wrong, right?
KEVIN: Yeah, it's the easiest thing to spot that shows what's actually causing an issue, right.
ANGIE: So if you just jump in and we're like OK, well I see that you are over pronating and that you're this knee is crashing in so, like, we need to do this thing or, you know, we automatically have to fix your arm swing or we need to fix your heel strike, right? There's a lot of movement, especially like 10 years ago of taking people and moving them from heel strikers into 4 foot strikers or more midfoot strikers, right? Changing the way that your foot hits the ground.
KEVIN: Believe this happened people from heel strikers to 4 foot strikers and they're like, Oh no, that's causing a problem. Let's go from a 4 foot to a mid foot.
ANGIE: Right. But the the issue is, you know, this is the mistake that a lot of runners make is like, OK, well, I'm experiencing this pain in this issue I must need to correct my form. OK, and what happens if that's like the first thing you go to is like, I'm I got to correct my form, what happens is that you end up wasting a lot of time, a lot of valuable training time when you could be focusing on more important things right? Like bigger issues to address versus just like trying to go in and just correct this one little thing with your running form right.
KEVIN: Just endlessly like standing in place and trying to move your arms in the correct direction might not exactly be the best use of your time. Right. And I mean, I I remember this when we started talking about running form. I have vivid memories of my high school coach telling me that I was bobbing my head too much when I ran. But he didn't try like there were other kids in the team who had like wonky arms or their leg kicked out to the side. He would key and very specifically on who he thought had funky form that he could say like a couple of things and it might fall into place. Which to be true he was completely right. Like, I literally look like a bobble head dog doll like my my head was all over the place.
ANGIE: I really wish we had some video of that.
KEVIN: I, we do not, everything was..
ANGIE: I wonder if that's why you run stiffer now, like when you run, you have like a stiffer upper body like it's like over correcting.
KEVIN: I may have overcorrected.
ANGIE: Some of that I'm curious about that. Alright, so, but anyway, today. We want to talk about why you're running form might not be the problem. OK. And what we think that you should focus on before you start to just go right in and start altering your natural running form, OK.
KEVIN: Yeah, excellent. Which brings up the the second thing, when I first got into coaching, I went back and was assistant coach at my high school and and the coach head coach, who was my old coach, said take care of these freshmen boys because I don't know what he's doing with his arms but he can't do that and be successful. And that was The thing is I I don't know what it is I don't know why he's doing it exactly. I don't know how to fix it and quite frankly I have other things to do so you try and fix his arms and I did the best that I could write, but I had no background in coaching at that point in time. So it was like, OK, what can I do to try and maybe perhaps fix his arms, which actually led to a bunch of things we're going to cover today is I tried to fix arms and then legs went weird. I tried to fix arms and then he was getting side stitches. I tried to fix arms and he was like constantly cramping up across his back because everything, like arms was the visible like the easiest thing to see was he had super awkward arm carriage.
ANGIE: Right, but the body is so amazing. Right. This is the thing that, like, we don't realize we're like, oh, we'll fix his arms, right? Yeah, but by changing your the arms, you're changing everything about the running form, right? Because your body is an amazing machine that adapts. So if, If, say, he had one leg shorter than the other, OK, and because of that his gate was slightly altered, then his body just naturally could have changed the way that he was swinging his arms so that he could offset the rotation of the lower body with the upper body. That's just what naturally happens, right?
KEVIN: Yeah, so I think part of the whole should I change my running form? Should I not? I was dealing with a 14 year old kid who had been running literally for like a month and was like, hey, see if you can make his arms do do something differently before it was so ingrained of he'd been running for years. There's and it was like, hey, this kid is just getting into running and he's still so young that even just his overall athletic, like, even if you get into running later, you've still been moving your body for more years than this kid had, right? So I think part of what the the head coach was getting at was like if we can alter things now, sure, it's going to cause other issues that will pop up and we're going to have to address those issues, but ultimately it it's like the whack a mole game. You hit the one and it pops up the next issue hit that when it pops up the next one. If you keep hitting them you may find the root cause, and I think we ultimately did we worked that strengthening area and eventually the kids aren't certain moving in a much beneficial, more beneficial way.
ANGIE: Yeah, and but. So that's kind of what we want you to just start thinking about really with this episode and really kind of getting to the root cause of why you're running form is the way that it because running form itself is not the key to running faster, right?
KEVIN: No, not.
ANGIE: A lot, right. At all. If you actually watch, you know, any elite marathoners or the Olympics or any sort of, you know, elite professional distance runner, you're gonna see generally similar forms, right? Like in general, they have similar forms like, one of my favorite things about watching professional runners run a marathon is 1 when they all run In sync with each other, right? It's so cool, right? You're just watching all these people and there's just this pack of like 10 people that are all running just like their legs it's it's like mesmerizing when you watch it, right? So while a lot of them do look similar, and there's definitely things that we can take from watching elite professional runner there's there are definitely differences between them, and I was like going back and kind of preparing for this episode and watching some elite women in in their running form. And there's like some examples of some women that have like what would not be considered ideal running for him, and they are still out there objectively. Right. Well, what we as physical therapists, right.
KEVIN: There you go.
ANGIE: Well, we as physical therapists when analyzing gate and that's a lot of the videos that I found were actually like physical therapists analyzing some of these professional runners, which is fun and you're like, wait a second, when her foot hits like this and her knee goes like that, like, how can she run so fast if she's appearing this way, right? So even though there is a a quote on quote see I guess this is what I would even argue is that there is an ideal running form. I don't think there is. I really, I really don't think.
KEVIN: It's really let’s say ideal.
ANGIE: I think that you can optimize your own running form and that's really what we're going to talk about today and why it's not the first thing you want us to to look at because what happens when you think that running form is the key to running faster, or is the key to avoiding running injuries? A lot of times what you'll do is you'll ignore some of the more important, in my opinion, in my humble, very humble opinion, the more important issues of strength and endurance because you want to tweak your form, right? So instead of like addressing some of those underlying strength issues or lack of endurance issues, you're like, well, if I just fix my running form, then I'll get faster, then I won't be injured, right? And it leads to you kind of fighting your own body and it leads to not getting faster, not increasing the endurance because you're focusing too much on the running form and then you know this can lead to a lot of inefficiency actually in your running. It can lead to a lot of extra stress and strain on the body, like where when you go out. If you go out on a run and you're like, OK, today I have to focus on forefoot striking, right? Like I need to land on my midfoot, right? OK. You are going to feel so tired of focusing on that within the first mile I would say, right, like just within a couple of minutes like it's going to be very difficult for you to just go out on an easy run and enjoy it if every step you're thinking about OK, where is my foot hitting right? How am I swinging my arms? Where are my shoulders located? Like all of these different running form tweaks that people want to hone in on is going to really take away from the enjoyment of the run and you're probably not going to get the pay off that you're hoping for as well.
KEVIN: Yeah, I mean, I I like that you say there's not an ideal running form. That's a tough one, because as I scroll through my feed, you know, my phone knows that I I'm, I run, It knows that I like runners. It it often knows that I'm typing things about, like an outline for for podcasts and so my it will pop up different running coaches and every time it's like 5 things to change about your running form, like that's the go to thing about.
ANGIE: Well, it's very easy to YouTube. It's very easy to Instagram. It's very easy to tick tock and people are like, ooh, right, like it's one of those high catching attention grabbers that you can
KEVIN: Of course it's 'cause you take the video of a person and then you draw the, like, fluorescent green lines over them to show their posture and their arm sling 'cause you, you know, it's super scientific if there's fluorescent green lines to make.
ANGIE: Yes, when? People love that stuff.
KEVIN: My normal actual human form looked like a running stick figure. That's the key of scientific success. Or if you've got the slow motion, one where you go into like one of those labs and they put the little like balls all over your body.
ANGIE: Oh yeah, those are fun.
KEVIN: That's then you've clearly taken it to a higher level.
ANGIE: Well, you don't even you don't even need that now because there are so many iPhone apps. You know the smart phone apps that just do it. You just do it on any video. Take a video and you upload that video into the app and it will analyze your running form for you, I know.
KEVIN:And then it'll compare to whatever that random algorithm thinks is the ideal running form.
ANGIE: Right and this is you. So part of my issue with the way that some physical therapists and running coaches handle this issue because of these different apps, excuse me, because of, you know, all the technology that we have now, it looks so professional, right? It looks like it looks so fancy and people are like, oh like this running coach will give me an official gait analysis with the thing in the app, and it'll give me all of these things that I need to work on. But how important is any of that? It's my same issue with the with the running coaches that use like uh, you know V dot, V2 dot and the power Max and the VO2 Max and like all of these different tools out there, and I'm not knocking any of the coaches and I'm not knocking all of the tools, but what I see a lot of times is we are taking the science and we are taking the technology and we are using that instead of learning how to trust our own body, instead of actually addressing some of the underlying bigger issues at play If if I upload your video into an app and it gives me 5 different things that you can work on and I give that to you, you feel like you've gotten something right versus coming to a running coach and being like, OK, like this is hurting and I'm like, well you just need to do more side planks. Right, like really, is it that simple? Like, but we love over complicating things, we love over complicating things, especially now with the way that we have technology in the way that we use technology. It's like the same thing with these food sensitivity tests that are out there now, right?
KEVIN: Oh my word.
ANGIE: If, like, if you look at people that are like, oh, you know, like my I'm, I'm having all these hormonal issues, so I I'm gonna get my food sensitivities tested. Like how reliable are any of those things, right? But it comes in an app, you have to pay for it. You get results that will give you very concrete things to do, like, ake eggs out of your diet then you'll start feeling better. And you know, sometimes it works right for some people it works, but there are so many other things at play here. It's not just like as cut and dry as like, OK, you know, this app said told me that I was sensitive I mean, my sister did one. You remember when she got that? And she was like sensitive to like 72 different things, like it was so many different things. I'm like, what are you gonna eat? You know, like what? What do you even supposed to eat when you get? A list that's like that long.
KEVIN: Is one thing that says like you're allergic to a thing you should not like if you're allergic to peanuts, don't.
ANGIE: We're not talking about.
KEVIN: Don't give it a shot if you're intolerant, lactose intolerant.
ANGIE: Allergies, right?
KEVIN: Don't enjoy milk everyday at breakfast that's not going to go well, for the rest of it.
ANGIE: But there's a lot of people that are lactose intolerant and they eat ice cream anyway because they want the ice cream and they know it's gonna cause digestive upset, but they're willing to go through it right?
KEVIN: So before we had all these, I don't even know how the tests work because I I think it's nuts and I don't really want to change the way I eat other than I kind of want to feel good, but I can think about it. Like spicy food, hey, if I have spicy food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I have a feeling that my stomach is going to be making some funny noises when I go to lay in bed that night. I don't need some fancy tests to tell me that spicy food might be too much all day long, right? Like maybe from time to time but then it depends on what it is and you can figure it out by actually just paying attention and listening to your body, which I think is one of the big things to kind of get pay attention.
KEVIN: Get us back a little bit on topic here is your form. Your body will figure out how to optimize your own running form and to suggest that there's an ideal form that everybody can do, then spins it right back into the the perfect the quote on quote perfect diet for everybody like sure, there's one exact way that you need to carry your body as you run down the street. Just think there's one exact perfect food and diet for everybody out there. No, obviously, because everybody has their various food sensitivities.
ANGIE: No, but if you take this body type quiz.
KEVIN: Oh, the body type quiz.
ANGIE: Then that will tell you what foods you should eat for your body type, because clearly there's only three body types in the whole world.
KEVIN: No, I saw that. I saw that that one was right after the five things I can do to fix my running form. Then there was the which body type are you? And then it told me. How to optimize my own personal intermittent fasting by a combination of which of the three body types and what age block I was inside of.
ANGIE: Oh yes, yes, yes.
KEVIN: And then every picture was just this like absolute chiseled like cartoon guy. And I was like, well, clearly I would like to be that shows on cartoon Guy, so this, my eating window should be exactly in here, right?
ANGIE: And so this is you know obviously we're we're poking fun, right? And and there's nothing. We are not trying to like insult any of these apps or anything out there, although I do think that some of them are ridiculous. Not gonna lie, but what we're trying to bring attention to is that we live in a culture in the information technology that we have that is trying to optimize for clicks, right? So the more polarizing it can be and the more they can tell you this one food ruins your stomach, right? Like, if you eat tomatoes, you're going to die tomorrow, right? Because tomatoes have a compound in them that is not good for your gut. Like, that's how our society is set up nowadays, like moderation is not sexy, right? In moderation and like, listening to your body and figuring out what works best for you is not the thing that's going to get the clicks and the likes and the shares as much as, Oh my gosh, what's sitting in your refrigerator could kill you tonight at 11, right? Like, that's literally how our media system is set up. So like Kevin said, you know when you run over the course of many miles, oftentimes your body is going to just kind of optimize naturally running form and efficiency. So if you then try to change that and alter your natural running form, that's actually going to cost you more energy.
KEVIN: Every time.
ANGIE: OK, every time. So if you try to change your running form, you are going to get a decrease in your running efficiency for a set period of time until your body adapts to that new way of running because our bodies are amazing. Our bodies just adapt to things as we put, you know, the things that we put on, the stresses that we put on them. And your body will slowly and eventually adapt to the new form. So if you really, you know, change, want to change from like heel striking to forefoot striking, which we are definitely not advocating. Lots of people heel strike, lots of people forefoot strike. It's different for everybody. There's other parts of your running form that matter much more than your foot is actually hitting the ground. OK, but so say you are trying to make some some sort of form adaptation your body will adapt okay. It's just going to take time and your efficiency is going to decrease during that time because you have to figure out. It's like learning a new skill, right? Like anytime you try to learn a new skill, like playing the piano. You're going to have some a learning curve, and that's exactly what you're doing with your body.
KEVIN: Here where you're essentially. Trying to overcome muscle memory like that to your body knows how it likes to run, and so trying to make it run in a different way is going to immediately be more challenging to the body, like automatically and that doesn't mean that you're going to be slower like if you run down this and you overextend you like you over stride every time, and you land real hard on your heels and I come up and I say hey, try leaning forward and landing on your toes and run down the street guarantee you're going to be faster at the second time, but it might feel a lot more challenging and not just more challenging because you were able to do it faster, but because suddenly you're using muscles and trying to coordinate muscles and I think it's the coordination more than using the new muscles, it's trying to coordinate the muscles that are like, what the heck am I going on here? As soon as you can get that coordination going, you start the adaptation. This is like when it goes to strength training as well. You immediately start getting some pretty substantial gains in strength just because your muscles that you're trying to use start firing in coordination. Same thing happens with trying to change your form. But at first, it's way more challenging to try and run with any sort of new form, and as you try and go faster, as you try and go longer, you're eventually going to default back to your old form like even as you start making those adaptations. Oh, I think I totally have eliminated heel striking from me, alright. Let me know how that looks after an hour. Ooh, strong heel striking again.
ANGIE: Yeah, because things change when we fatigue, right? Like, this is just what happens and this is part of why running form like, targeting running form before you're addressing muscle strength and fatigue is kind of one of those things it's, I don't want to say it's pointless, but it's definitely not the best use of your time because even like these elite runners that we talk about when they're starting the marathon, a lot of times there form looks fantastic but if you look at them at the end of the marathon, there's going to be some alterations in their form, like everyone form, I would say I mean maybe I shouldn't generalize like that, but I would say most people their form at the end of a marathon versus their form at the beginning of the marathon is slightly different, right?
KEVIN: And I think 'cause they're tired, but your biggest key here? Sometimes you can see marathoners coming down. You know, maybe there's a battle at the end. There's the best I I think is the marathons where there's still two or three people in it with like 1/2 mile to go and you're like, oh, that one looks like they have the smoothest for my money on them, what you really need is to look at all three of them running right now. And look at all of them 1/2 mile into the race. Whose form is the biggest change? Yeah, because you got the one person who's legs are kicking out the side their arms are flailing all over. They they run like Phoebe from friends I would like to suggest? But if that's exactly what they looked like, 1/2 Mile End of the race, my money is on now as opposed to the person who has like they they still look pretty efficient. They look like they they're running pretty smooth. But if they look like they were literally floating at the beginning, and now they look like they have good running form, but they're not just floating anymore, no, they're done.
ANGIE:They're trying a little harder, yeah.
KEVIN: They are trying way too hard, but that person who's still flopping all over, if it's the same flop as it was when they fired off the gun, that person is not fazed yet.
ANGIE: Right? Exactly. And so If you are trying to change your running form like, you also have to remember that changing form requires a lot of focus, right? And it can quickly become very mentally exhausting, the more you do it, especially if that's the point of every, right? And so, like when we have people come into the Academy and talk about their running form. What I always tell them is #1. There's bigger things that we need to address first, but if for some reason you're like, you know, set on changing your running form, you know. Uh, maybe we can talk we're gonna talk a little bit about like what we would suggest like a little bit later in the episode if if form you know, is going to be an issue, but start off really small like start off with like maximum of like 5 minutes during a run and and to practice that new alteration that you're trying to work on, and then gradually try to increase it. Like if you go out and you try to just make that focus, you know the the form alteration, the focus of that run, that run is going to feel like it's gonna be so exhausting both physically and mentally, because you have you're literally focusing in that entire time.
KEVIN: Right? And then it's just going to make you keep thinking about that area of your body so suddenly as that area starts at fatigue. Like, oh, I think there's actual pain in that area. No, there's not pain. You're just thinking so much about, like your left calf that you're like, I want to make sure that my foots landing correctly. Now suddenly you're noticing pain in your ankle. You don't have pain in your ankle, you're just thinking about whether your ankle is flexed or pointed as as it lands. So you're so focused on minute details of the body that it's highlighting pains that don't really exist unless you really think about it. Like if you go out for a run and you have a mild side stitch, mild old side stitch, and you just really concentrate on it. You can turn it pretty quickly into an awful side stitch. You have a mild side stitch and then you take out your phone and you try and come up with a new song on the thing and you're trying to get the volume adjusted your 1/2 mile down the road, at least I am, because I can't make the buttons on my phone work right, especially when it's so hot outside that my thumb won't click 'cause it's too sweaty. I'm a half mile down the road and I don't even remember that I've got a side stitch because I'm just trying to do other things. It's where your attention goes, so if you go too much on your running form then you're just going to start really keen on that, It's going to be miserable. You might notice pain that doesn't even exist and how much you're going to want to go run the next day and the next day knowing that, that's how bad that run felt.
ANGIE: Right. So here you are thinking that, like my form is the key for me to run faster and then you actually start to change your form and you notice that you're actually getting slower because you're running becomes less efficient, right? And it's for a period of time how long? I don't know, right? Because it depends on you and how your body is actually going to adapt to that form change.
KEVIN: Oh yeah.
ANGIE: And again, if the goal of changing your form is speed is trying to get faster, you're not going to be hitting that right away, right? Like maybe three months down the road, six months down the road, a year down the road, you might start to see some of those form changes pay off, right? So are you willing number one to work on it for that long? Are you willing to be patient enough for that those form changes to pay off? You know, like that's those are some questions that you want to ask yourself. If speed is the goal of or yeah, increasing your speed, that's the goal of you changing your running form because it can work like one of those stories that I heard in right.
KEVIN: I mean, this is going back, way back when highly giver Selassie was still winning like every distance event in the Olympics. He won 5K 10K the one year and he was able to close like the the 10K. In like a 54 second lap, like that's how he won all of his things is he would just run everybody into the ground and then still dropkick on him. He said when he was in his teens he watched all the best people from around him run and they all seem to land on their forefoot and he landed on his heel. And so he said to himself, if I'm ever going to be world class I need to move myself from with for my foot landing on my heel, toe landing up on the front. But it literally meant that his entire life could change if he could change him from being a kid who ran in the village to being able to be one of the best runners in entire world. So he had the dedication to do it day upon day upon day. If you're out there being like, man, it would be cool if I could complete a marathon, that's a different level of dedication then I can completely overhaul my life, my family life, possibly multiple generations as he's like, he's got a museum named after him over in Ethiopia, like that's a different set up so that I mean just kind of an old example, I don't know, but it was clearly a like a running form and it meant something to him to change it.
ANGIE: Yeah, so let's jump into the second thing here, which is like the the second big reason that people want to change their running form. So the first one that we said is is trying to get faster OK. The second one, which I believe is the more common reason that people try to change their running form, is injury prevention or injury treatment, right? Like you already have pain, you already have a running injury and you need to fix it. You're trying to fix it, and so you look at to running form as the the fix for your running injury or you're looking to prevent a running injury and so you're like, well, let me fix my running form now, because I've heard that heel striking is bad and that heel strikers have higher incidence of injuries and oh no, I'm a heel striker, so I better fix this so I don't get injured, right? And so this assumes that the form change. Like you changing your running form is going to fix all of these problems, right? That it's going to prevent all injuries, which it won't. OK. And it's going to fix your pain your current pain or injury, which it may or may not. OK, so.
KEVIN: That's a rough double hit there, right?
ANGIE: So you think we think 'cause like, you know this is what we do as humans, right? There's nothing. We're not trying to make you guys feel bad in any way we're letting you know like this is totally normal, right? Because we want the quick fix, right? We want to feel better sooner. Pretty like we we don't want to be in pain.
ANGIE: We don't want to be injured, we want to be able to go out and run and so if there is is simple and easy fix to it like Oh well if I just change my running form then this pain will go away, of course we want to take it right? But what we're telling you is that changing your running form may or may not change the pain or injury that you're experiencing. It may or may not prevent a future injury, and a lot of times it ends up just kind of trading one injury for another. OK, so for example, like one of the big things that we've already been talking about is heel striking OK, so this was a thing, you know? That started like 10 or 15 years ago with the the onset or the shouldn't say onset, but like the resurgence of barefoot running, right?
KEVIN: I mean it's it's it's the pendulum like this was the thing 30.
ANGIE: There was a book that came out. It's a pendulum, right?
KEVIN: Years ago and so. Right. Probably there's also, I think, 60 years ago that it just keeps swinging right?
ANGIE: But there was a book that came out maybe it's like 20 years ago. I think it was like in the early 2000s, right? And there was a book that came out and it was about a guy who had like found this running tribe down in, like, Mexico and they all ran and like basically barefoot like they had running sandals with zero support and so it led to this resurgence of barefoot running and heel striking is bad and and traditional running shoes are bad because there's so much foam built up that they encourage us to heel strike and heel striking causes more injury and if we just switched to a four foot striking and running more like on our toes with less cushioning and minimalist shoes, then that's going to fix all of our running injuries because look at this one tribe in Mexico. None of them were injured and they run for like 40 miles a day, right?
ANGIE: So again, anecdote. So definitely interesting, right? Definitely interesting to study things like that and be like what's actually happening here, right? But the simple, you know, shoe and running and heel striking and forefoot striking, that's not the only thing at play. So the other thing, so, anyways, what ended up happening is that a lot of people changed from heel striking to forefoot striking so a lot of people that had knee pain when running with a heel strike, all of a sudden their knee pain went away and they're like, oh my God, this is amazing. Yeah, amazing. This is this is the fix
KEVIN: Right and they glided with pain. Free knees for several months, maybe several weeks or like a couple of days.
ANGIE: And then what happened is because of the the alteration in their running form, running more on the front of their foot, they were now straining their calf more and so instead of knee pain they all of a sudden started having Achilles issues and calf issues instead. So it didn't like, well, I mean it did get rid of the knee pain, but essentially it just transferred the way that those forces were being absorbed in the body. So instead of having more force on the knee, there's now more force in the ankle, the calf and like the achilles complex. So it really just shifted it so now all of a sudden those people hat switch from heel striking to forefoot striking, we're just having calf and achilles issues instead it just changed the location of the pain.
KEVIN: Right. I mean, this is what running shoes were designed for it back in the 70s is it was the the early running boom, so many people were running, people were getting knee issues and so the shoe companies were like, we can fix your knee issues and they fixed it by just shoving a giant pad of foam underneath it that just literally it lessened the impact. So it took all of the pain off of your calves, but it doesn't make the pain go away it just moves it to another location somewhere your body has to absorb that impact and so now shoe companies are like, Oh well, we went we went really thin and that gave achilles pain so now let's go back thick and how people are getting knee pain. Ultimately, the shoes are just trying to move your your pain, your impact somewhere around the body, wouldn't it be neat if instead of trying to use a shoe to magically fix it, you could just take care of the underlying weakness and muscle imbalances so that you weren't trying to move the the pain around you, your body is actually capable of dealing with the impact that seems like a better fix.
ANGIE: I agree, and that's really what it all comes down to you know, it really all comes down to strength and weakness, like where are your areas of weakness, and so for going back to that example, some people tend to have like weaker knees and so by shifting the force from the need to the calf, maybe they have really strong casts they don't end up having calf problems afterwards because they have the strength in the calf to deal with that force that would be a great shift for that person, right? But other people that are weak in both areas, it's just really a matter of time before that knee issue becomes a calf issue or vice versa. OK, so you know what we really want you guys to understand here is that fixing the running form in a vacuum solo, right? Like only looking at running form and not addressing the underlying strength issues that are likely at play here that is the recipe for a lot of wasted time and probably no change in your injury or your speed, which is what you're looking for when you're trying to change running form in the 1st place, right and so before you jump into fixing your rain form, it's so much more important for you to address what weaknesses you have, OK? Like really starting to understand what are my like, what areas of my body do I have weakness and how can I start to work on those things through strength exercises to become stronger, to support my body so that I can get faster and not get injured because really, you're strong. Strength is the key component, not your running form OK when it comes to getting faster and not getting injured. If you have adequate strength in your body to support you as a runner, you are going to be faster, and you are not, you're going to decrease your risk of injury. Can you completely eliminate injury risk? No, I wish you could. I really wish you good, right. But you can definitely decrease your injury risk when you address your strength
KEVIN: And so when you do that, when you spend time directly addressing your strength, you have to realize that that's going to be a big stress on your body. So you can't just be like, alright I'm going to really focus on increasing my strength as I build up my mileage for this half marathon because the the extra stress you're putting on your body by trying to increase your strength, which then goes to power, which may ultimately change your running form because you've built up, you know, some stability along the way.
ANGIE: I was about to go there, yeah.
KEVIN: Like, it's difficult to build that up. Right. Like, realize all the benefits you're gaining from strength training while maintaining mileage, so trying to increase strength and ramp up mileage trying to increase strength to be like, Oh well I've got this five Cam trying to PR for so I want to make sure I get in plenty of speed work. No, no, no, consistency of you being able to just go out there and continue to run, which you might not have had with, you know, with the weakness that was leading to injuries that you had to. Oh well, I can't run today because this is too sore I can't run today suddenly you're missing two to three days a week because it's just too sore to run. If you spend some time and focus on the strength training and not worry about trying to ramp your mileage ramp here intensity, but just worry about the stress that the strength training is causing to you, you're going to be able to read some big benefits out of that.
ANGIE: Yeah, or changing your running form at the same time.
KEVIN: Or change your running form changing your running form is a stress in of itself, you ignore any of the rest of it. Just trying to change your form is a stress on it. Trying to change your form while running easy makes your easy run not necessarily an easy run. Trying to change your running form on a like a hard speed workout is like double stress, so you're going to need all sorts of time to recover and during that recovery time, you can't be focusing on changing your form, because then you still have this stress.
ANGIE: Here's the thing that's really interesting. So I'm glad you brought up a hard speedwork because this is one of the things that a lot of people don't realize is that when you start to incorporate higher levels of speed into your training plan, your in your routine, again, you're running form will become naturally more efficient like if you just go out and run this experiment on yourself, OK, like go out and just find an easy pace and run it just like a super easy pace and kind of like feel what your body is doing right like, are you shuffling? Are you taking longer strides? And then just like, do that for a couple minutes and then try to do a sprint right? Like try to try to run like harder. Like maybe it doesn't have to be an all out sprint, especially if you haven't sprinted in a long time. We don't want you to pull a hamstring or something like that, right?
KEVIN: Let's say achilles and hamstring pains coming up real quick here.
ANGIE: Yeah, yeah, we don't need that review on the podcast, right? Like, I listen to their advice and I pulled my hamstring. No, that's not what we're telling you to do, right? But if you haven't yet left us an iTunes review, and especially if you love the podcast. That'd be awesome.
KEVIN: And your hamstrings are feeling good?
ANGIE: If you hit pause and left that iTunes review right now and told them how awesome you thought this episode was, but anyway. Just see how it feels right? Like you running at an easy pace versus you running at a hard pace. Your running form is going to change, like, automatically when you're running faster, you're going to be kicking your leg back more you're going to be striding your your stride is going to open up your it's going to widen. Your arm swing is probably going to be a lot less. It's or it's going to be more efficient, right? It'll be your instead of your arms kind of being out to the side, it's going to be they're gonna be closer to your body and they're probably gonna go more forward and backward versus side to side, right? Just start to notice that because again as you run faster, your form is just naturally going to improve. So this is one of the reasons why you don't have to focus just on your form, because as you get stronger you will get faster and as you get faster your running form will improve so it will kind of like join you in the process. This is why strength is the cornerstone of it all, right? A lot of times when we can find those areas of weakness in the body and we can work to improve those areas and make them stronger, your running form is probably going to naturally get better, so you're not going to have to make a lot of these adjustments on their own.
KEVIN: Right. So part of this is not just the wrong random strength exercises at all, it’s either is you're going to need some actual targeted strength training that works on muscles that runners actually need as they're running, right? Like being like, Oh yeah, I did some strength training, so I did like some some curls and some hammer press like, like, there's there's too much, you know, gym exercises that are not necessarily tied directly into your running form. So you can do some of the, like, the big body lifts like squats and deadlifts and things like that, but then you need a little bit. You don't have to necessarily be thinking about your running form so specifically, but keying in on some like whole big body movements, multi joint movements and then some strides allows you to then express your strength in a way that you have to have more efficient movement because you're moving a little bit faster down the road.
ANGIE: Well and you can also do single leg strength exercises as well. OK, so single leg strength exercises are one of the most functional and effective ways that we can strength train as runners and just working on muscular control like doing movements slowly while standing on one leg is a fantastic way for us to functionally strengthen our bodies as runners, because one of the biggest hm, culprits, I will say of running form problems are the glutes OK? Like and this is again when you go see your physical therapist or and they find out you're a runner, they better test your glute strength and most of them at this point in time know that, OK, so and a lot of them are going to give you glute exercises, but one of the big functions of the gluteus medias which is like the muscle, it's kind of like on the back and the side of our hip, right when we run and we're literally jumping from 1 foot to another right? So when we run the foot that's on the ground, that gluteus medias is firing to help stabilize that leg and the pelvis. Try to keep our pelvis level as we're moving that other foot forward, OK, and so by doing single leg strength exercises and moving in different directions while balancing on one leg, you're essentially activating the gluteus medias to try to help you to help that muscle learn how to stabilize your pelvis and stabilize your body and control that movement and so the slower you perform that move movement, the harder the muscle has to work OK, during during the exercise, OK, it's actually, you know when we're running faster that muscle has to turn on and turn off over and over and over and over again and it has to activate very, very quickly OK, so that your body can stabilize within a fraction of a second as you jump from 1 foot to the other.
KEVIN: Yeah, which brings up a very interesting thing that I think you wanted to touch him a little bit here of in terms of what we might suggest on changing running form. Don't worry. I mean, sure there are things you can do with your posture in your arms, but one of the things that we like to suggest to several people if if I seen somebody running for him like Umm, what if they just tried this, is sometimes the early domino 'cause everybody likes the domino effect that good things will fall out from it, yeah, what if they just took quicker steps? It often, not always. There are some people that that taking quicker steps is not at all recipe for success, but often improving your cadence, which means taking more steps per minute will have of positive effects on all sorts of things, right? It'll shorten the length of your stride usually because a lot of runners as they jump from foot to foot they take like big loping steps from foot to foot, so then your landing really hard.
ANGIE: Right, which is what, what hold on before before we say that a lot of runners want to increase their stride length because they think that that's going to make them go faster, which is true.
ANGIE: To a point, right? By taking longer steps, right? There's two ways to get faster. You can take longer steps, or you can increase your number of sets per minute, right?
KEVIN: Or both.
ANGIE: Like one or both, right? But if we look at Kevin and I, we have similar cadences. Kevin just takes a much longer step with every single step he takes, his stride length is much longer than mine which means he is faster than me.
KEVIN: It's like somewhere. I think it's over 1 ½ times your stride. Is it that? I think it is, especially if we're moving it like.
ANGIE: Might be.
KEVIN: Like relatively similar efforts like if we're both going at 5K effort, I think my stride length is like.
ANGIE: We should look that up.
KEVIN: Double yours probably sounds better.
ANGIE: Yeah, probably. And so people look at that and they're like, well, if I just, if I want to get faster, I just have to take longer steps. And so by focusing on longer steps that can lead to over striding, which is what Kevin which is talking about which is when your bot when your foot lands out in front of your body that's what actually increases your injury risk as a runner. It's not the heel strike, and this is what a lot of scientists are seeing nowadays because they were blaming the heel strike before they were saying when you land on your heel it puts this like breaking motion on the body and sends a lot more forces up your leg into your knee, into your hip, into your back. All these things, but what they found out was that if you land on your heel with your body, with your foot underneath you, it doesn't increase your injury risk at all. It's only if you're landing with your foot out in front of you, which is an over stride, that you're getting that increase in injury risk. And doesn't that? And just because you're increasing your risk of injury or decreasing your risk of injury also doesn't mean that you will definitely get injured or that you won't ever get injured, right? We're just looking at one aspect of injury risk. There's a lot of different factors that go into your risk of injury and I would argue most of them come back to weakness.
KEVIN: Yeah, I mean, there's so many things out there on running form and like over the years I've heard different coaches try and come up with different things to think about as you're running like taking fast feet, making sure that your foot 'cause most runners, yeah, a lot of runners land on their heel, and it's a matter of how quickly can you transition and roll from heel to toe, because that's essentially what your foot does as you run. Even people that land on on midfoot, they actually did one on Usain Bolt running the 100, he lands on his toes but if you take it down to super slow motion, he lands on his toes then the heel does in fact make contact with the ground, so he literally laugh, rolls back on his foot and then propels back forward they're like, it would seem like it would be even more efficient if he actually landed closer to his heels, so he didn't have to rollback then forward. He could just roll forward, but it's just what he does, and his bodies become so good at what? It does happen.
ANGIE: And it happened.
KEVIN:So quickly, it happened so fast. Like, why would you go through and change like you're the fastest human ever? And and yet some people would look at the video in slow motion they'd be like if all they saw was the zoom in of his feet would be like. Well, this is this guy is never going to be all that fast. Look, he rocks back onto his heel before he goes forward because it slowed down so much that you don't realize how fast he's running as he does this, this is part of just looking at one tiny aspect of the runner and saying no, no, this is the blanket fix that will make everybody faster, they'll make everybody be able to run further with less chance of an injury. There's not a blanket fix for everybody. Like everybody is an actual unique runner, so you have to figure out what works for them, you figure out how long have they been working that form and has it lead to injury? Are they pretty efficient at that running form? Then you probably don't need to do crazy things to the form. Make sure that as you increase speed, as you increase mileage that they have the underlying strength to do it but don't tell somebody, oh, well your knee kicks out, your knee crashes in or your foot kicks to the outside so before we do anything else, we have to fix that, you probably don't.
ANGIE: Well, and that leads to what we believe you know about running form, which is that running form is a way for you to optimize what you've already built, OK? A lot of people want to jump to fixing running form before they build a strong foundation, which is again strength training, making sure that those areas of weakness in your body get stronger because again, a lot of that will just naturally fix your running form. Ff you have weak hips. So say somebody does a gait analysis on you, and they notice that your knee is crashing in more on the one side than the other. For example, they're like, OK, well, that's because you have weakness in your hips, right? But a lot of or we didn't even talk about running shoes. OK, so well I'll touch on it briefly, but here's the thing.
KEVIN: We did.
ANGIE: So a lot of times if they say OK, your knees crashing in, they'll also notice that your foot is crashing in as well because it's a chain that everything is connected. So they'll try to change your running shoes, right? Well, if we just put some more support in your running shoe, then your knees not going to crash in, but what we sometimes forget to address or what some people fail to address is the weakness at the hip that's probably causing the needed crashing, which could be causing the foot to crash and it might not have anything to do with the actual support at the foot. So this is one of the reasons why running shoes don't usually fix an injury, they just tend to move the pain around like we talked about before, right? Changing from a shoe with a higher heel drop to a minimalist shoe doesn't necessarily quote UN quote fix an injury. It just moves the pain from your knee or calf, right?
KEVIN: It might move it long enough that you can have like a relatively effective training cycle and then oh, and then after that race I took a few weeks off.
ANGIE: Right, right.
KEVIN: Great, now your body is able to recover for a little bit, then you ramp back up, it's kind of.
ANGIE: And maybe you put in a strength building cycle because you've been listening to our podcast and you're like, oh, I can focus on other things other than just races, so I'm going to take three months and just focus on my strength, beautiful, right? Then you can take that potential calf injury from you hanging your running form. Strengthen the muscles so that now that calf can take the new forces that you're putting on it so that it doesn't turn into the injury or that it has a lot less of a chance of turning into an injury.
KEVIN: Yeah, I think the like the, the fix that you're going to get suggested kind of depends on where you're going to try and find the fix. You go to a shoe store and you tell them that, you know, my my knee hurts and they may in fact actually watch you run depending on like the quality of the shoe store that you're in and they depending on how good they're actually at, this might be like, Oh yes, your knee crashes in and you're, you're kind of your arch collapses as you run so we'll put you into these support ships, You go see a podiatrist. They'll go through the gate analysis. And they'll be like, Oh well, we need to fit you for these custom orthotics. OK, so the shoe guy is going to sell you a shoe. The podiatrist is going to sell you the $400.00 orthotics that they make in the physical therapist is going to tell you that you have weak glutes because they're trying to actually address the underlying issue. Like, it all depends.
ANGIE: Some physical therapists nowadays will sell you orthotics to.
KEVIN: Only if they make him in house. Right. If they make them in house, or they've got to deal with the company down the street that they're getting a kick back from, you got to.
ANGIE: Yep, I watch out for that.
KEVIN: Be careful on that.
ANGIE: One, and not saying that you don't need orthotics might, right? Like you might like your physical therapist might be doing you a favor. It might be doing you a service you might actually need orthotics.
KEVIN: But you also probably still have underlying weakness, but the orthotics may help along the way, but they're not gonna just magically fix your weakness, right? It's like cold medicine, cold medicine is not actually curing your cold, right? like cold medicine is taking care of some symptoms. So that you can function enough to maybe actually get some sleep like this is one of the biggest things when when I get sick. If I get so stuffed up that I can't sleep, how is my body supposed to heal if I'm sleeping 4 hours at night? So I need enough medicine that I can breathe that I can sleep through the night so that my body can actually heal itself. Like maybe? That's what a change of a running shoe does, maybe a little bit of an orthotic, so that you can then actually function and heal the underlying issues.
ANGIE: Yeah, so if you can change your running shoes, which will buy you time to get those muscles stronger, then you might not need the same level of support in your running shoes anymore like this is like something that's kind of fun, too. Like when people come to us and they're like, well, I don't know I've run in these shoes for the last 10 years and I've never had a problem like, yeah, but now you're getting stronger, you're actually adding strength training into your plan, so you might not need as much support in your running shoes anymore and now you're running shoes might be overcorrecting you right?
KEVIN: That's a good one.
ANGIE: Or that orthotic might be overcorrecting you, because now you actually have the muscle strength to just go out and run with your foot in a neutral position, your knees not crashing anymore because now your glutes are strong enough, right? So what you could have used as a little bit of a bandage before? Sure, maybe you don't need that anymore when you get stronger and people are like, Oh no, there's a problem it's like, no, actually, we can just start to take some of this away now you know, like you don't, you need the cold medicine maybe during like days one and two of the cold. But then as your body starts to heal itself both you can. You don't need the medicine as much.
KEVIN: Or maybe you used to train for five case and you got away with low mileage and you were in a neutral running shoe.
KEVIN: But now you've signed up for the ever popular half marathon or marathon, and as you hit the double digits, as you hit the even even lower than that, the oh man, I never get hurt until I hit my six or seven or eight mile are like the number of people that we've talked, we've heard. It's usually around six somewhere around six, everyone, so we get the outlier that's they can make it up till double digits and as soon as they hit double digits they're done, which I think is half because it's 2 numbers all of a sudden, but up until they're they're fine. That's your overall fatigue. So your body was able to handle 1 certain load, but there was still weakness. It just didn't display itself until you were out there getting just enough pounding and then your body is like, OK, I can't handle that. Yep, it can. You just need to build up strength the overall muscle endurance, so that when the fatigue really comes in, suddenly you're still able to hold your efficient running form maybe you didn't have feet crashing, knees crashing anything until you had an hour, hour and a half of fatigue, and now suddenly everything is falling apart and each it's again, it's the difference between the runner at the beginning of the race and the end of the race if you have funky form at the end but it matches your funky form at the beginning. You're fine if you have funky form at the end and you didn't look like that at the beginning.
ANGIE: I bet everything hurts also. Yeah, because your muscles are tired. Because you didn't have the strength, you still don't have the strength in your body to undergo the load that you're trying to put on it. And So what we're trying to you know, what we really want you guys to take away from this episode is that build that foundation first. OK, before you start to try to jump in and try to optimize anything with running form tweaks, make sure that you're building the right foundation and that includes running the the proper level number of miles that you need to train for whatever race you are, you know, training for or whatever goal you're shooting for, and then building up that strength as well, making sure that your strength in your mobility like some of those other pieces of your foundationaand are taking care of what about your recovery, right, what about your nutrition? Like are you getting enough sleep so that your body can actually recover, so that when you go out to stress it again and go out to run those longer distances, it you're not getting that roll over fatigue as much, right? And so because if you start, if you think about it, if you're not getting the proper level of sleep then your body never fully recovers, and so it's like you're starting the next day and the next run the next workout with fatigue that's still there from the day before or two days before or two weeks before, right? Because you've been just pushing yourself so hard. So going back to building that strong running foundation, thinking about things like your strength, your mobility, your recovery, your nutrition.
KEVIN: Yeah, I was gonna say let me highlight nutrition on that one. Yeah, if you've been training for 5K and 10K's and now you're training for 1/2 marathon and you have not changed the amount of food you're putting into your body, you're just like, you know what I'd really like to do? I'd like to have a 12 week half marathon training plan. But at six weeks, I'd like to feel miserable and get hurt. Yeah, that's essentially the training plan that you've signed up for.
ANGIE: Right, because your food is your fuel, right? So you need to fuel yourself like an athlete again going back to that foundation and optimization running form is something that you can address. We're not saying don't ever address it, we're just saying it's a little bit lot you know, lower on the chain of things like hit those low hanging fruits first, like try to make sure that you're eating enough. Make sure that you're sleeping enough. Make sure that you're strong enough like to do the things that you want to do. And then if you want to work on your your running form, that's fantastic, right like there, there are improvements that you can make if you work on your running form. But again, those are just kind of like, those are more of the fine tuning, those are the tweaking that's the ways that you can optimize your performance versus like really. You know, skipping that foundational level before you jump in there.
KEVIN: Yeah, I I got one more metaphor for you on this.
ANGIE: OK, I love metaphors.
KEVIN: One OK I, If I want to be Thor for Halloween.
KEVIN: Hey, I'm going to need to do a lot more than go to the Halloween store and buy a hammer.
ANGIE: Alright, I don't think so.
KEVIN: Thank you. Thank you for lying to my face. OK, Hemsworth arms are bigger than my, we waste like they just they they are he's, but they're they're definitely bigger than my thigh.
ANGIE: Maybe your side, I don't think your your waist but maybe your thigh?
KEVIN: That's that's not even a question like that man is huge. So if I just walk around carrying, you know, I forget what his meow meow his his hammer. If I just walk around carrying a hammer, everyone still going to be like. Who are you? And be like, oh, I'm Thor and I'm going to get some laughter is pretty much what I'm going to get. No one gonna mistake me for Thor because.
ANGIE: But if you put the wig on.
KEVIN: Like the wig on TV, possibly, you know, fake, a really excellent accent. But if if if all I've got is that it's a Halloween costume, I'm pretending that I've put in the work the man spends hours in the gym like the amount of.
ANGIE: Oh, you can break out member in on our Halloween box. We have a muscle.
KEVIN: Shirt? Yes. OK, so sure it's it's 100% made out of foam. I ward to be a superhero in some previous.
ANGIE: It's made out of foam and awesome.
KEVIN: Yeah, but that's my only way of trying to get to that thing is trying to hack a shortcut that clearly is not the actual answer to this thing If I wanted to actually look like Thor, the amount of time and effort that I would need to put into it is a whole lot more than just putting a costume over the top of it. So, if you want to be able to run faster, to be able to actually reduce the chance of injury, you can't just be like, well look, my arms are swinging correctly and and landing on my toes, like, that's really not the actual fix, right? That's like, that's last things that you can put in you could be able to run longer without injury and be able to run a whole heck of a lot faster and still have funky forms. Some people might look at you and be like, man, they are running really fast for having such awkward form. But who cares, because you're blowing, right? Pass them in the middle of the race if if you start with form, you may look like like you're gonna run fast, but you're not going to actually be running very fast.
ANGIE: Well, because without the strength and without the base, without the endurance, that form that you've worked so hard to create is going to break down when your body gets tired. Yeah, it's just what's going to happen like, it's a matter of how long can you hold that form, right? And that is a function of strength and endurance, and that's all a part of that foundationthat you need to build before you start doing form tweaks. OK, so we're not saying again, we're not saying don't work on your form. We're just saying work on the more important things first and then by all means, if you want to work on your cadence, your arm swing, your posture, those kinds of things, it can definitely help, right? And those a lot of times, you know, if people come to me with back pain or different things I can make. Some very small postural suggestions, right? Or some cadence like what Kevin was saying like cadence is usually the the first thing we tell people to focus on if they're looking to adjust their running form 'cause there can be benefits of adjusting cadence for some people, but do the foundational work first.
KEVIN: Yeah, 100%. I mean that's that's what you got.
ANGIE: At the end, that's it. That's it. And so if you guys want to learn more about what goes into your running foundation and some of those pieces, we would suggest that you get on the wait list for the Real Life Runners Training Academy. We teach you all of this inside the Academy. Foundation is actually phase two of our of our Academy. Phase One is intention. We teach you all about the mental side of running because you gotta get your mind right first. Phase two is foundation, really understanding all the pieces that go into building that strong foundation and how to actually build a plan to work on turning your weaknesses into strengths a personalized plan. And then phase three is optimization where we go into higher level strength training, higher level nutrition, running form those kinds of things so that you can build off of that strong foundation that you've already built. So if you guys want to get on the wait list for that program, head over to realliferunners.com/academy today and you can sign up, so that you'll know when that program reopens and in other announcements.
Stay tuned it I'm going to be running a webinar later this month. I've got that scheduled for September 22nd. I'll be opening up registration for that soon. It's going to be a free webinar. I'm going to be talking about how to run your next PR without adding more miles. OK, so I'm gonna tell you some about we're talking more about these foundational pieces and what you need to focus on beyond just mileage for you to set yourself up to run your next PR, OK? So keep your eye out for that either on social media here, on the podcast, and then of course, sign up for our emails over on our website realliferunners.com.
You guys, this has been a fun one.
KEVIN: Thanks for sticking around to the end.
ANGIE: So yeah. So as always, thank you for spending this time with us.
This has been the Real Life Runners Podcast Episode #270.
Now get out there and run your life.