Overthinking Running Stride

Since the pandemic has forced the cancellation of most everything in general and more specifically for the purposes of this blog including running related things like racing, group runs, or even simply running with friends. It does mean that I have had more than a little extra time to think about how I can improve my running.

I wrote a bit about it in my blog post Read the Books, Watch the Videos on Running.

For the past few months I have been working on improving my running mechanics/efficiency/stride and have focused more on books that would provide me with ideas about what might work for me. So I have read or re-read the following books:

  • Your Best Stride – Jonathan Beverly
  • Run for Your Life – Mark Cucuzzella
  • The Running Revolution (Pose Method) – Nicholas Romanov
  • Natural Running – Danny Abshire
  • Master the Art of Running – Malcolm Balk
  • Chi Running – Danny Dreyer
  • Science of Running – Chris Napier
  • Running Rewired – Jay Dicharry
  • The Running Injury Recovery Program – Bruce Wilk

Discouraged

However, when I took a video of me running the other day, it was disappointing and discouraging as all get out.

Then when I watched and compared it to a video that I made of myself running back in 2013, I became even more discouraged.

and this one from 2012 didn’t help either.

While I have deluded myself that I have been working successfully at changing how I run, the evidence is pretty clear that I have not done too well at changing much of anything.

Which in a word – sucks.

Okay, enough whining, bitching and moaning about some old fart’s running form that is as resistant to change as some of the ideals that I hold true.

What am I going to do about it?

That is the big question isn’t it.

I have a choice to stop everything and attempt to start over or keep moving forward with “great” form that I have and attempt to keep making small tweaks in specific areas to help me run a little more efficiently, but not really attempt to change everything at once.

Starting Over

Starting over has its appeal and with the pandemic going on around me, there is probably not a better time for me to stop and retrain my gait using something like The Pose Method, Chi Running or some other running improvement process. The idea to see if I can improve my stride into something that resembles good form according to others and make the old body a bit more injury proof.

Unfortunately, with my mindset shutting down and taking the time to rebuild me as a better runner would work, maybe for a week or two. Then I would slowly start to regress and finally just say screw it and start running again.

Maybe slightly better, but I wouldn’t bet on it too much.

Finding My Best Stride

So that leaves me with focusing more on something like Jonathan Beverly – Finding Your Best Stride kind of thinking. Keeping what I got and tweaking little things as I go to see if they stick or help me avoid more injuries.

After almost 50 years of running, with way too many miles and far too many running and non running injuries to this old body, I figure the body has figured out what works best for the one that I now have.

Even if it ain’t all that purty.

The reality is that

Quite honestly, if I had not done the video of myself the other day, I would have gone blithely along with the idea that I was surely improving my running form. I really thought that I was making good progress, when I was making very little if any progress.

The camera is 3 feet off the road, yet I am looking directly at the sole of my left foot (old injuries), my right leg is straight out, over-striding with a hard heel first landing. With my elbow out away from the body. Just about “perfect” form if you ask me – NOT!

As much as I have worked on “fixing” my running form, not a whole lot has changed since 2012 and probably for many years before that.

Everything comes down to the fact that I know myself pretty well and that the amount of work and time necessary for me to actually be successful in changing my running stride would mean that I would not be running regularly for quite a while and that is not something that I am willing to do.

It comes down to – I just want to run.

No one “method” or stride perfectly fits every runner and especially the runner I am or the body that I have. Yes, there are certain generally agreed upon tenants of what good running form is and we definitely know it when we see it. However, the idea that there is one “true” way to run for everyone is in my opinion wishful thinking.

Figuring all this stuff out does take time and it has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion. I will never have what is considered a beautiful running stride, but I have one that works reasonably well for my body. It is good enough that it typically gets me over 1,500 miles most years, which is not too shabby if I stop and think about.

So what I need to do is stop stressing out or overthinking about how I run, tweak a few things here and there, then just run to enjoy my running. Even if it doesn’t match up anywhere close to what is considered by many to be good running form.

It is my running form and for me at this point in my life the cost vs the benefit to change is at best…questionable.

About the only way that I can see me actually making changes to my stride would be to go away for a couple of months, focus on nothing but my running and have a coach and/or teammates work with me daily to improve. Since Nike or some other big organization doesn’t have a lot of interest in seeing how much an old fart can improve his running form, that is not going to happen.

I will make peace with the stride I have and build my running around it.

As far as reading and re-reading all these books, did I waste my time?

No, I don’t believe so, at least now I have a pretty good idea about what is considered better running form and what I would need to do in order to get there.

This experiment of one continues down his chosen path or is the path that has been chosen for him. Either way, I will keep running until I cannot.

Have you attempted to change your running form/stride? Were you successful or did you run into problems changing things up?

Keep smiling and running.

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