Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Form and Process

Spending over a year with a spasming hamstring, sore tendon, and aching hip got me thinking. Maybe it's time to figure out a way to stop hurting. I've done my share of RICE, stretching, strengthening, but as those who've experienced injury know, some pains come back, rehab and initial recovery be damned.

This time around, I'm working on my running form, hoping to find biomechanical errors at the root of my protesting legs.

Up first? Stabilize my pelvis to limit the lateral movement in my hips. Up second? Land on my midfoot instead of my heel. What does this all mean? It means I get to focus my mind in a new way. When I'm asking my abs to steady my pelvis (to myself of course, not out loud) I can't spin my head around what's on the plate that day. Hard running always has a way to silence my mind because all attention turns to getting oxygen into my lungs. But focusing on form now lets me turn easy jogs into moving meditation. It's another tool to bring me into the moment, something our dogs model so well. Awakening the moment lies at the heart of seizing the day.

And so I talk to my pelvis.
How's it going so far? Well in only a couple of weeks, the hip-stabilizing has worked like a magic pill. My hip doesn't hurt anymore. I'm half hoping for my usual twinge to come back because, really, did I just spend a year hurting when the answer was so simple? Perhaps battle, force, and will don't always top the podium.

The midsole strike hasn't gone so well. In an attempt to avoid striking the back of my foot, I've swung too far forward and started striking my forefoot. Running on the balls of my feet has awaken all sorts of muscles in my lower legs. While I enjoy the muscle-discovery of funky soreness, this wasn't the plan. The midsole strike is being readjusted.

As one change works and another requires more change, I'm becoming more excited about the process of adjusting my stride. This won't happen overnight. Instead, I get to set goals (figure out a way to run that doesn't hurt), create steps to reach those goals (hello pelvis, hello midfoot), and adjust and zig-zag and enjoy the journey.
We humans struggle to live in the moment, partly because of the gifts of foresight, dreaming, and reflection. As I focus on my running form, I get to watch a process unfold in the present moment, and let a future goal shape the now. It's not about willing myself or struggling to a certain end. It's about adjusting, responding, asking, shaping. . .because missing all the mole holes along the way is a travesty of life.


KB said...

I hope that your changes help. I can only imagine how hard this year has been. I thought of you when I realized that the NY marathon was occurring again, hoping that your injuries from that race had healed.

It is amazing how hard exercise quiets the mind and brings one back to the moment.

I love the photos, especially the full moon at the top of the trail behind Kona.

Sara said...

I stopped running because of horrible hip pain. I never really thought about making adjustments to my running position. Makes so much sense.

I love seeing Kona exploring on the trail.

Sam said...

I'm so glad you've found ways to make yourself more comfortable out on the trails. As an aspiring physical therapist, this post really resonates with me - one of the reasons I chose PT was so that I could help active people continue to be active.

Kona's looking great, too!

Dawn said...

So right, missing any mole holes along the way would be a terrible waste.

Hope you get it figured out. It's not easy changing what may have been your natural stride. I hope it works!

Barb said...

That last photo of Kona reminds me of Alice going down the rabbit hole! Have you read the Chi of Running? (I have it on my Kindle - must look up the exact title.) It discusses posture and midfoot running. I've found that it helps to practice this kind of stride by walking first. I actually try to walk midfoot if there is ice to keep from slipping.

Kathy said...

I am just really suprised at how hard and how much work it has been to come back off an injury, and how quickly we can adopt bad body mechanics to try to protect ;-(, hope you are all back to 100% really quick, it has to be so frustrating for somoene like you to not be back to where you can do all you want to do