Every few months, I play with my own program design. Adaptation is the key, and I am aware of the fact that the moment we stop adapting our health begins to decline. I can see it so clearly on me and around me. What worked for me two years ago doesn’t anymore, so I move on and find new way. A lot of people struggle to adapt because they don’t like changes; hence, some people are fighting their own battles.
One of the changes I am making right now is adding more runs to my walks. I still mostly walk, but to support metabolic flexibility, I am incorporating phases of medium to fast pace blocks of run into my regular walks. It’s usually about 400m:3km (I run 400m and walk 3km).
I, however, did not start straight away because it’s been a long time since I engaged in running. The thing is, I never liked it, I am more of a sprinter guy, but again, variability in the correct dosage is important for sustainable health and I’m finding the ways to enjoy it. To do something just because I have to wouldn’t make sense.
Below is a simple process of how I approaching this new goal of mine.
STEP 1: ENVIRONMENT CREATION / BIOMECHANICS
For some, this can be creating a favourite playlist, downloading a running app or purchasing running gear. This can take s week or two.
I usually listen to a podcast or Taylor Swift during the run; as an app, I use Apple’s inbuilt one which measure my speed and track my heart rate, and we will talk about the shoes selection later in this post.
My example of "creating the environment" is preparing my body for the enormous impact on the ground. When I hit the ground, almost 450kg of force goes back to my body, so I want to be sure I am safe and in full control.
Two months prior to this decision, I have been working on my biomechanics - to learn how to land on the mid-foot, directly under my hip. I said to myself that if I can do this, I will be able to use ground reaction force to propel me forward rather than put a break on my run with my old style - landing on the heel.
Also, this mid-foot landing secures my body’s reaction as soon as I hit the pavement and dissipates the 450kg onto my fascia and muscles rather than shovelling it into my joints.
I teach my body to walk mid-foot as well, and conscious awareness helped me to translate this into my occasional running.
I also work on mostability - making my joints stable and mobile concurrently. Footwork and different activation drills are environmental prep keystones.
While running, I am trying to relax my body as much as possible. I stay tall, use mid-foot landing and trying to enjoy it rather than pushing too hard. So, this is my preparation and what I’m working on.
I will never be a full runner, although jogging on the beach is very enjoyable, but time to time I like it. I enjoy walk way more. Walk helps me to but just relax but I’m also very productive.
STEP 2. SHOES SELECTION
As you can see in the video below, in the first place, it doesn't matter what shoes we are wearing. How we interact with the ground is more important.
Therefore, my focus is on my structural stability and being able to decelerate pronation. The inability to decelerate pronation can lead to many body issues from shin splints, Achilles tendonitis to peripatellar knee pain or low back pain (especially with my foot type - arch collapsed). You can google Pronation Distortion Syndrome.
For this, I highly suggest training in IoM's 4Q Programming model as structured variability creates resiliency and robustness so we can enjoy what we do for longer.
This blog post is not about deep biomechanics; we would need one day workshop for it, so why am I saying all this?
Well, in the current era of minimalist shoes, we must be vigilant and responsible what we are recommending. Again, how we interact with the ground should be a priority before we decide what shoes we wear.
I do have a history of heel first running (working on it), my feet are flat (working on it), so for these reasons, I don't run in Vivobarefoot. I wear minimalist shoes or barefoot 85% of the time, so it's nice to put on a slightly cushioned Nike Free Runs for both long walks and occasional runs.
Since I do this, I am enjoying my activities and feel much more confident.
I will leave you with this: If you mostly run, start walking. If you primarily walk, start running. If you engage in activity which keeps your heart rate elevated for 90% off the run, add some interval to it. If you engage in the exercise where your heart rate undulating, keep it elevated for 4-6 minutes.
Variability is specificity, and your longevity relies on it.