Thursday, May 27, 2010

Minimalist Running and My Uncooperative Knee

I tried to take up running, and still hope to add it back into my morning routine, but each time I try, it's not long before my left knee shuts me down. I've had no official diagnosis, but from what I've read, my issue seems to be Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

Running was the last thing I ever expected to find myself doing on a regular basis, but I started coming to the conclusion that I needed to initiate some kind of regular fitness routine, and running seemed to be one possible piece of that routine. What pushed me into finally taking the first step and trying the running thing out, was my search into foot protection for my surf trip to El Salvador. I eventually came across Vibram FiveFingers, which show up in a lot of writing about barefoot/minimalist footwear running. The arguments for this type of running seemed to make a lot of sense to me (still hoping to get around to reading Born To Run one of these days), so I decided to try it out with my new, funny looking toe shoes.

I surprised myself by liking my new morning run routine. I didn't like the actual running itself (though it wasn't as bad as I expected), but the extra energy and forward momentum that it added to my day was great. My morning shower time was probably cut in half because I was no longer using the shower for the purpose of waking myself up. I built up to to the point where I was running the 5 km that it takes to get to the beach and back, and then my knee struck.

Whenever I try to get going again, after allowing my knee to stop bothering me, the problem shows up again, usually by mile 1. My current thought is that I might need to work on changing my running form some. I'm thinking about trying to adopt the POSE Method to see if that fixes my problem and allows me to avoid taking up swimming or bicycling instead.

Any thoughts? Do I need to give up the minimalist running idea altogether, and get special shoes to control the shape an position of my feet? It seems like it should be such a simple thing to do, just go out and keep putting one foot in front of the other at a decent pace.
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