Archive for May 27th, 2008

I seldom think about it, because I trained in maintaining balance for years as a young man. I take it for granted that everyone should be able to do what I do. Unfortunately, that is a wrong assumption.

Here are a few exercises that should improve one’s ability to handle uneven surfaces or running areas where the ground has small and abrupt elevation changes. Note that the knees are always slightly bent. Please do these exercises carefully, but do so at your own risk. If it helps you, then that’s great!

1) lateral leap — leap 1 meter to the left or right (repeat 12 times). Ensure that you land on your forefoot and that your knees are bent at all times. It is okay to use the arms to propel yourself sideways. Both feet should land at the same time.

2) follow the level — if you are transitioning from the road to the sidewalk, attempt to not use your quads to get up on the sidewalk. Use your back foot’s toes (leg closest) to bring yourself up slowly as the leg moves forward and over the sidewalk. This allows for a smoother transition versus using your quads and knees to get up and over. If the elevation change exceeds two feet, walk up don’t run up. You might hyper -stretch something .

3) single leg hops — repeat 12 times for each leg. Land on the forefoot and feel the springing action from forefoot to arch. This allows you to sense how the bones and muscles interact, and the muscle memory will allow better handling for uneven surfaces.

4) choose the right surface — if faced with a choice of surfaces to run on, always opt for the one that provides the best feedback. Asphalt is best. Avoid ruts, grass, concrete, and sand if possible. Wood is actually great to run on, but only if it hasn’t been dried out. Sometimes, the ground can be too hard so go and run on the softer shoulders if you can.

5) keep your thinking hat on — don’t zone out during your run. Look 30 feet ahead and check for obstacles. Prepare a plan and then execute. It will become second nature after a while.

More to come!

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