Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Sport.

I have decided to make running my sport. I never really considered it a sport before. I just used it as a means to stay healthy. But after thinking about it some, I realized that it really is a sport. There is a lot that goes into it. I guess I figured that sports were automatically team oriented and more competitive. Yes, running is quite the event when it comes to track and field, and especially during the Olympic season, but it doesn't get as much acclaim as say basketball, or football, or baseball, or even tennis. I mean, how many marathons are televised from start to finish? That would be quite boring if you ask me. Now, I suppose, if people consider golf and bowling sports, then certainly running should be one too.

Looking back, I wish I had played sports more. Maybe I shouldn't say more and just put the period after sports, because I didn't really play any at all. School work and music were the emphasis of my youth. It is unfortunate because there are valuable skills in playing sports. Sure, you can play music well into your retirement years, whereas sports skills may not be as useful, but developing a habit of physical activity is something that will be a benefit later on. Sports is a social opportunity as well. A friend's 70 year old mother plays on a family soccer team. That is a good thing to do as a family—you get exercise, interaction, unity, bonding, etc.

Well, because I never really learned to play team sports, I thought I might as well do an individual one. I can play team sports, and I enjoy them quite a bit, but I do not feel like I can play them well enough to play with people who do know how to play. I will admit for everyone who is too afraid to admit it that playing sports with someone who doesn't really know how to play isn't much fun. It slows the game down and increases the chance of losing. And no one wants to lose. It's even the case when people play "just for fun."

After talking to an experienced running friend, I decided I would get serious about this. I started by buying some shoes. It was recommended by this friend, as well as a couple of other people, that I have my gait analyzed. About five months back, I was due to get some new running shoes. I tried several different brands but never found one I actually liked. Some of them even gave me pain from my ankle to my knee to my hamstring. I finally decided on some Asics, which I had never used before. They were the best of what I tried. But with my increased running in preparation for the SLC half marathon, I started getting pain again. And I was due again to get new shoes. So, I went to Runner's Advantage. I believe it is now the Salt Lake Running Company.

The guy put me in some neutral shoes to do the analysis. I ran for about 30 seconds on a treadmill while a camera recorded my feet. The guy then played it back in slow motion and showed me what was happening. There is a term called pronation which means "to turn (the sole of the foot) outward so that the inner edge of the foot bears the weight when standing" (from Ideally you want to be neutral. Underpronation is when the weight is borne on the outer edge of the foot and overpronation is when the weight is borne too much on the inner edge. Neutral, then, would be evenly distributed or flat. I overpronate quite badly. He recommended some stability shoes. But the ones I had before were actually appropriate for my gait. With that, he said that I should try some arch support insoles. After testing out a few different brands of shoes and different insoles, I decided to get a pair of Brooks. I went back on the treadmill and he recorded me again. This time, with the new shoes, my feet were aligned properly. There was a night and day difference. I wish I could have kept a recording to show the difference. I was amazed. Apparently my arch is just really weak. Oh, and it was confirmed that I am supposed to get shoes a full size bigger than my regular shoes. I was in disbelief when I first learned that.

With the new shoes, I was pumped for my first run. Unfortunately it was the day my mom came into town, so I didn't have a chance to really test them out like I wanted. I went on the treadmill and struggled to keep up my normal pace. Midweek runs are always much harder for me. I did have a few concerns, though. My feet moved around too much. I was worried that they were indeed too big for me. But, I thought I would give them some more time. Saturday came around and I was determined to have a good run. I laced up the shoes a little tighter this time and set out. It was a good run, and there was no pain...and no blisters.

Last week I was in SLC so I decided to run around Decker Lake. The week before that I ran into Farmington. This time I mapped out a 5.3 mile square (to run twice) just around Centerville. I went down Main Street and saw so many other runners. And let me tell you, they were all so friendly. Some would wave from across the street, and with those on the same side, we would exchange morning salutations. I realized that there are quite a few runners. I felt a sense of unity, but without competition. There were several runners who passed me, but that was ok; I was running for myself. I didn't have to worry about letting anyone else down. I felt really good after I was done and was excited to make this a consistent thing.

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