Tag Archives: Running

Sidewalks are for Walkers!

With 2009 almost over- I am approaching a total of 500 miles for the year, which I should surpass in the next few weeks. 70% of those miles have been run on the road (asphalt), not sidewalks (concrete). Running safely on asphalt is a challenge. Depending on where you live, there is always traffic, a mediocre bike lane, or the dreadful limited shoulder. Below is some information that will get you off the concrete and onto asphalt.

Asphalt_RoadThe following will be different for various runners- but the ideal surface is smooth and moderately (but not too) soft, and the worst is rock hard, like concrete, or irregular, like the gravelly shoulder of a crowned or banked road. According to a clinical study of 4,000 runners, co-authored by Southern California podiatrist Dr. John Pagliano, one of the five leading causes of injury is “improper” running surfaces. The other four are training errors, inadequate shoes, faulty biomechanics and muscle dysfunction/inflexibility.

Pagliano comes down against concrete, saying that “if you switch to softer surfaces, you can cut your injury risk by 50%.” Here is an exert from Dr. John Pagliano & Robert Chasen –  Grading Running Surfaces:

Surface Pros Cons Considerations Grade
Asphalt A smooth, macadamized road is ankle-friendly, freeing you to ponder more than where to place your foot. Any shoe with an ample midsole and outer sole can absorb much of the mpact. Road running can beat up nearly all of your lower-body muscles and tendons, plus harm your lower back. If you’re susceptible to hamstring or lower-back tightness, go off-road instead. Running on banked shoulders can produce “long leg/short leg” injuries. If you must run on a crowned road, spend an equal amount of time on both shoulders to equalize the stress placed on each side of your body. C
Concrete If well-maintained, concrete is the smoothest of all surfaces. It’s approximately 10 times harder than asphalt, so all your bones, muscles and connective tissue get pummeled. In other words, welcome to stress-fracture city. There may be occasions when you have no choice but to run on a concrete sidewalk or bike path. If so, don’t run too far, wear your beefiest shoes, and slip in some gel or neoprene heel pads. F

Kathleen M. Naughton, DC, CCSP, puts it best; Dynamic Chiropractic – September 1, 1992, Vol. 10, Issue 18  “The forces generated at heel strike are dissipated through the musculoskeletal system. Harder surfaces result in increased pounding and subsequent deleterious effects.” Because of this, something like concrete is far less forgiving than asphalt.

Concerned about running on asphalt with cars present? Here are some tips to help drivers spot you easily on the road.

1. Wear bright or reflective clothing. Dressing to be seen will make it safer for you and drivers.

2. Always look both ways- even on a one way street. Be careful and pay attention to your surroundings.

3. Never take chances when sharing the road. The pedestrian always has the right away, but drivers may think otherwise.

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Run with your arms!

This morning I was out doing a light run. The rain was coming down and the temperature lingered around 48 degrees. During times like this I slow down and take in the scenery; plus today was a light run before my long run tomorrow. Other runners were out braving the conditions, especially ones that had incorrect arm swing. As runners passed me going in the opposite direction, I could not help notice their lack of arm movement or extreme side-to-side motion.

Years ago when I first started running, I can remember my cross country coach teaching us to always swing our arms while running. Coach William Chavis taught us to swing our arms forwards and backwards, mirroring our leg movements. To this day I can remember him yelling at me from the top of a hill during a race, “Philip, swing those arms- get up this hill.” Ever since that moment I have always been conscious about proper arm movement.

Here are some tips to live by-

  1. Relax your shoulders, keep your arms at 90 degree angle
  2. Keep arms close to your body
  3. Swing your arms forwards and backwards opposite from your leg movements. Left leg goes forward- right arm goes forward and vice versa
  4. Your arms should move forward and back, not across your body
  5. If running up hill, shorten your stride and swing your arms a little faster

Apply these tips to running or walking long distances, and you will gain speed while reducing fatigue.

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Virgin Marathon Runner

Over the last 12 years I have been running races and working out religiously, but have never done a Marathon. For those not familiar with the term Marathon, I included a brief history borrowed from Wikipedia: The marathon is a long-distance foot race with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers (26 miles 385 yards, or exactly 26732 miles) that is usually run as a road race. The event is named after the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens.


Some would ask why I have never done a marathon, and my answer is simple- I never wanted to dedicate that much time to running. This year, 2009 will be the year that I finally get a marathon under my belt. I will be running Charlotte’s Thunder Road Marathon on December 12th. With the race only a few weeks away, training will be my major focus. After a bit of research, I have decided to follow Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Marathon Training Schedule, which can be found here. So far the program has been working well. My legs and body are gradually adjusting to increased mileage without any injury or pain.

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