Just lately I have been running better and faster than I have for a long time. I’ve run some of my routes faster than I have ever done, and when you consider my age, it is quite an achievement in its self.
Not only that, I feel I can make more improvements: I can run better and faster than I am doing now.
So, to what do I attribute these recent gains?
If you look back through some of my older posts you can see that I started running on the track again a couple of years ago. That is when I started making changes.
As you know, the only constant in life is change.
I was stuck in a rut running the same few routes at the same pace (or struggling to maintain that pace) four or five times a week. It seemed that every time I did anything different I would pull a muscle or something. Every morning I struggled to walk downstairs because my ankles were so stiff.
The first change I made was running on the track once a week.
That got me out of my rut and caused me more pain and agony!
But that is what got me onto looking at why I was suffering so much. If you read this post you will see my first change. It is amazing what difference a shoe can make.
Then came my experiments with food.
Finally I found a good pair of shoes to run in.
And now I think I am reaping the benefits. Since I got my Merrell shoes I have thrown out all of my “normal” shoes. After a few weeks of gently breaking my legs in to them, suddenly I am running further than I have done for 30 years and faster than I have done for years.
So, my two changes that have made such a difference are:
1. Check your protein intake. Since I started drinking protein shakes after my run my legs have recovered much quicker and they are not so stiff in the mornings. Getting your diet right is a major part of your training program.
2. Get some better shoes so you can run properly. This has completely stopped my annoying little injuries and has enabled me to run faster, especially down hills.
The protein one you can do immediately; just look at what you are eating and correct it if necessary.
The second takes more time if you are not running properly and wearing the wrong shoes now. Take it gently. Have a look at this article.
I found that I made more progress by doing a complete change over to flat shoes in spite of what the article says and what common sense would say. While I was wearing both types it never felt quite right. I suspect that the running styles are so different that they work against each other so making it more difficult to adapt the correct running style. I would also warn you that it is likely to take at least six months to properly adapt and build up the necessary strength. Expect sore calf muscles, stiff ankles and aching feet (plantar fascia).
All in a day’s work anyway!