Thursday, April 22, 2010

Teacher, Humbled Student

Jato and I have now done 3 runs together, 4, 5, and 3 miles. I have to say even with preparing myself for running on this blade that initially I was wondering if I could get use to it. After last night's 3, the answer is: YEAH BABY!

It sounds contradictory to say the foot feels more "natural" while also harder to run on, but at least in the early stages of adapting to it this is precisely what is happening. The Renegade foot I have been walking and running in has a heel-to-toe mechanics, while Jato is strictly forefoot strike only and a relatively small contact area at that. So the angle Jato meets the pavement on foot strike is key: overstriding will hyperextend the knee and effectively put the brake on with a return bounce; understriding will cause you to stumble. Too high or too low affects compression not to mention straining other muscles and the back.

When I tried the other running feet - the cat6 Nitro and the Sprinter - I was mildly surprised at how much work I was putting into them. Trying to get the correct foot strike to maximize compression without stumbling or hyperextending my knee took a lot of concentration. If I looked up to see a passing car or neighbor waving I often stumbled when I broke my attention to running form.

So I started with Jato in the same manner, but I was prepared to do whatever it took to make it feel part of me, not some dead appendage along for the ride. During the first two runs with the blade I just could not get a consistent feel to the running gait. The best I could do was a sort of stabbing foot strike to get the foot down without overstriding and under me. It was awkward and I felt my one true gimpness. I adjusted the foot some, tilting the blade forward and aft, but couldn't find the magic angle that felt just right.

Wednesday night I made an adjustment before I left the house, and about 100m later I sat down on the curb and monkeyed with it some more. Back on, another 100m, leg off, more fiddling. we go, give it some time...a little over a mile later it seemed better, mainly I was not scuffing the bottom and rarely overstriding. Cool.

I ran mile 2 around 9:30 and found myself settling into a good rhythm, even stride, and my giddy-up was a go.

A smile, a nod of the head, a rush of emotion.

Yeah, I know I have a race tomorrow but I am not backing off the pace. I am running with Jato. I had prepared myself for at least 2 weeks of finding this very place, running without thinking about the blade, and I was doing it on my third run.

I end the run with an 8:45 mile and already thinking about tomorrow. Should I run the iFive:k race in the blade? No...NO...the Charleston streets are going to be a challenge with old pavement and rail lines, something that bothered my old ankle in this very race a few years ago.

This will be the swan song for running in my current Renegade foot, which I am thinking of naming "Grandfather" from the book "Little Big Man." Yeah, I like that. I will use it for rough terrain should I do any trail running, or maybe for an impromptu run if I don't have Jato with me.

Off to the races.

Rest up Jato my friend. You're gonna need it.


Just got back from the iFive:k. Even though it was a PR at 27:37, asthma dropped anchor on my right lung and I ran well below my current potential. Oh well, Jato and I will attack the distance in a couple of more weeks, and I won't forget to take a hit on my inhaler like I did tonight.

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