Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Loud 'mill Runner

When I go to the gym and run on the treadmill - which is often, about twice a week - I always hear the same sound.

thud THUD, thud THUD, thud THUD, thud THUD

I'm a loud runner. I don't mean to be, but I just am. I've always noticed that. I can hear my own feet thud-thuding over my music, even when it's loud. And it really doesn't matter the speed. If I'm going really fast, it just goes from that thud THUD above to more of a thudTHUDthudTHUDthudTHUDthudTHUD

I just dismissed it as me being heavy. I know, stupid thought, especially now, but what else could I have attributed it to? Think of a rhino versus a gazelle - which one makes the louder sound? The heavier one, right?

Recently, though, I realized it's not about my weight or anything like that. It's more about where my feet land when I hit the ground, or the tread in the case of the 'mill.

Seems I'm among the 25 percent of runners who land on the middle of their feet. A small illustration in the most recent Runner's World magazine made me realize that. The snippet of info says that most runners - nearly 75 percent - land on their heels, while a quarter land on the middle of their feet, and a fraction of runners - about one percent - land on their toes.

It's quite interesting, but it's true. Since I noticed that, I can make myself land on my heels. I have to focus on doing that as it doesn't come naturally but when I do I notice that on the treadmill, I get quieter.

Instead of a thud THUD thud THUD... it's more like a thump thump thump thump thump thump

It's a strange observation, and even though I've noticed it for a while - but just now blogging about it - I'm not quite sure what it means. The snippet of info says that because of where my foot hits the ground I'm not as prone to injury. I guess that's a good thing. I mean, I know there are many factors that contribute to being injury-free, but if I'm naturally prone to not having injury, I'll take it.

Now, I'm just totally guessing here but I think that the way I land makes me work harder. I mean, it seems natural that by landing on your heel, you would have more momentum to push yourself forward. It's like a rocking horse or a rocking chair. It's relatively easy to get those things moving back and forth once you get them going. But picking up and landing the foot in the middle just seems like more of an effort. I've noticed that, especially when I'm going downhill, that when I make myself land on my heel, the run can become a little effortless. It's not like I'm running on air or anything but it does make a difference. But since I have to focus on it and actually think about placing my heels first on the ground, it gets a little mentally taxing, so that doesn't happen often, or for very long.

But I might be able to attribute some of my faster times to that. I have tried that technique during races recently, from the ARMC 5K to the Run Through Redlands. Again, it's mentally taxing so it was only for stretches of those races, but I did it. But who knows if that really contributed to anything?

Anyway, while I haven't yet come to many conclusions about this sorta-new revelation, at least my mind is at ease about one thing - my thud-THUDs at the gym aren't weight-related.


Michelle said...

Thud Thud away! I'm a middle foot striker as well. The plus - People can hear me coming, so I never have to worry about scaring anyone on trails.

Lauren said...

I'm a heel striker and I've had so many issues because of it... I'd say consider yourself blessed :) and yeah it's probably a little harder but think of it as built in resistance training :D lol