What information would I want to share with a high school cross-country team? That’s a great question and that’s what we’re talking about today on the Doc On The Run Podcast.
I was just lecturing at the International Foot and Ankle Foundation meeting in Hawaii and one of the other podiatrists came up to me and asked me a question after one of the sessions and he said that he was going to be giving a presentation and working with a local high school cross-country team, and he kind of wanted to know what I thought would be the most important things to share with them to try to reduce their risk of injuries amongst the team throughout their cross-country season.
This is a great question and there’s a lot of information obviously, that a cross-country team or cross-country coach might want to use to try to keep their team healthy throughout the season. And so we were having this discussion and basically I thought it might be helpful to share this with you because I thought these are some of the things that can help any runner who’s trying to make it through their season without getting injured.
There are basically three things I said I think you should consider. The first one is running form basics, and what I mean is that there’s a ton of stuff about running form and it depends on how experienced the runners are, how experienced they are with modifying their own running form and how experienced they are with assessing running form.
The way that I would go about this is really simple. I will just talk to them about forefoot, rearfoot and midfoot striking and I would try to like give them the basic principles upon the shifting their form and looking at their posture when running. And then try to get them to just be aware of those differences between themselves and other runners and maybe even look at those people who seem to be the most experienced or the fastest and see how their form compares to the people who are the least experienced or the slowest.
Another thing is regarding running shoes, I run in three or four different types of shoes and I use them for different kinds of workouts. That way, I don’t have to remember which shoes I should wear on which days in order to rotate the shoes and reduce my risk of an injury. But what I believe and I don’t have real evidence for this but what I believe personally, is that by using shoes that force you to use different muscle groups or run with slightly different form protect you in different ways and spread out biomechanical forces of running so that one structure doesn’t get beaten up so much.
Here’s a really simple example. Let’s say you run in truly minimalist shoes on a track one day and you do a speed session and then a week later when you go back to that exact same speed session, instead of using those minimalist shoes, you use like a maximalist really cushioning type of shoe that’s really soft and supposedly very protective. Well, if you do that, you’re going to be sore in different places. And if you’re sore in different places, what we assume is that you work those muscle groups differently.
Any overtraining injury is where one structure gets stressed too much before your next workout and then you get an overtraining injury. So, I use different work with different shoes for different workouts. But many high school cross-country kids are just not going to do that because they’re growing and they have to replace their shoes really frequently. It would be crazy to get three or four different pairs of shoes and replace those every few months. That would be nuts.
So, instead what I would do is try to get them to figure out what is going to be the most effective for them with their foot type and pick one shoe that’s kind of tried and true, not something that’s at either end of the spectrum, minimalist versus maximalist. But I would pick one type of shoe that might work well for that athlete and have them use it throughout the entire season.
The other thing is I would use video to assess them. So, I would take a couple of different iPhones, a couple of different cameras, set them up on the track in different places from different perspective, and then record each of the runners running for a short period of time on the track so that you can actually compare them side by side looking at their running form and seeing how things differ.
I think with beginning runners and when people haven’t really considered a lot about adjusting their running form, just by looking at video of you running can teach you an incredible amount about how you’re doing things right or wrong. The way I learned this was not actually from running. It was from swimming when I was doing Ironman triathlons and getting faster and trying to get better at actually having more efficient form on the swim. I did a weekend workshop and the first thing they did was they took underwater cameras and filmed all of us swimming in the pool and then went over the videos. And it was crazy how bad my form was, and I had no idea. I’d actually been working on it.
I thought it was pretty good and I was wrong. Seeing it compared side by side to other people makes it really easy to point out those differences. So, you can do that yourself. You can set up a camera, you can set up your phone on the track, you can record yourself, you can look at it in slow motion, and then compare that to other things that are known to be good running form and see how you do. Those things can make a really big improvement in your form and perhaps reduce your risk of injury as you go throughout your running season.
If you liked this episode, please like it, please subscribe and if you haven’t checked it out, you can sign up you can go to through this thing, it’s a running injury quiz. If you’ve been injured, and you’re trying to figure out what you could do to kind of get back to running faster. You can get it for free at www.docontherun.com/quiz. It’s free. Go check it out, and I’ll see you in the next training.