If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I occasionally have a problem with bruising on the ball of my right foot. It’s not been a huge issue, but it’s bothersome. Sometimes, it keeps me from running for a couple of days. More often, it simply means that I need to wear my huaraches for a couple of runs until the tenderness goes away. What’s more annoying is that the fact that I know something about my form isn’t right, but I haven’t been able to figure out what.
Until now. The answer is simple. It’s all in my head. Literally.
I have a habit (like many runners) of not holding myself upright when I run, especially when I’m tired. I lean forward slightly with my upper body, and my head goes forward too. Otherwise, I do all the right barefoot form things, like “lift knees,’ “curl toes,” and “lift before you land.” But I lean.
And, when I do that, the following things happen:
1/ My stride lengthens slightly, on my right leg anyway.
2/ I don’t lift off as quickly, again on my right side.
3/ My cadence slows down.
All of that, I think, brings prolonged and unwanted pressure on the ball of my right foot. It gets bruised, the skin gets worn, and, eventually, that area of my foot either gets blistered or thin and vulnerable to injury. In fact, the only places I’ve ever had puncture wounds have been on the ball of my right foot. Puncture wounds aren’t much fun.
So, for the last few runs, I’ve been holding my head high. I still scan the ground in front of me, but I’m careful to strand up straight. It seems to be working.
The weird thing is that I now find (because I’m paying even more careful attention) that if I tilt my head ever so slightly to the left, I seem to run a little more effortlessly and gracefully. Now what the heck is that about?