Top Ten Running Mistakes
Our area is famous for its hills and no one knows them better than us runners. We love to complain about the steep uphills and how much they challenge and handicap our daily runs and weekend races and yet, in most cases, it’s actually the downhills that can lead to injury. Yep, that’s right, the downhills are where folks are most likely to hurt their knees, back, or shins but the best way to avoid this risk is to take it easy when running downhill. Try shortening your stride and slowing up the pace. Another way to avoid the pounding is to drift off to the side of the road and, if the surface is even, run on the grass so as to avoid the shock of the blacktop or concrete sidewalks. So, save the fast downhill running for your races not your training runs... you’ll save your joints in the process!
Now that the weather is cooling down it’s even more important to start your run slowwww! Runners perform better after starting out slowly and when the temperatures are cold it’s prudent to let your muscles ease into your run. The hamstring, Achilles and calves are particularly vulnerable to quick movements from cold to hot. So, take a few extra minutes to concentrate on warming yourself up properly on those sub-freezing morning and evening runs.
A word or two about the track... This month I’d like to add a few thoughts to our ongoing discussion regarding our efforts as a club and to find the correct paths to harmony with our fellow runners in the community.
One of the most commonly utilized running venues is Lannigan Field, better known to us as “The UVA track”. Dedicated in 1954 to the memory of one of UVA’s legendary coaches and faculty members, this centrally located oval represents the last UVA athletic facility still open to the general public. Therefore, it serves our best interest to follow these rules that apply to all tracks.
First off, the track is made up of a series of oval lanes and the closer these lanes (1, 2, and 3) come to the “infield” the more important it is for us runners to pay attention. Why? Because, like the left lanes on the highway, these “inside” lanes are for those running the fastest. So, if someone comes up behind you at a pace faster than yours, you should always “give way”, which means move to your right (from lane 1 to lane 2 or 3). The faster runners should shout out “track” as they come up on the slower runners in lane 1, which is a polite way of saying “please get out of the way” or “please move to your right”.
There are two other important reasons why running in the “fast” lane can be a “no, no”. 1) It is harder on your hips and knees because the turns are tighter. The higher the lane # (7, 8, 9) the safer it is for your body. 2) the more folks run lap after lap in lane 1 the quicker it wears out the track, which creates a slicker surface for the UVA varsity track athletes (who train their on a regular basis) and also causes water to pool up on rainy days, also detrimental for the UVA athletes.
I hate to pick on dogs for the second issue in a row (as I’m writing this I’m looking over at our Jack Russell “Scout”, peacefully sleeping with her 5 two week old puppies) and all who know me well understand how much I actually love dogs. BUT, simply put, the track is NO place for dogs! It’s a privilege that the University allows us to use this wonderful facility and we want to always be respectful of that neighborly gift. The track is closed from dark to dawn and is also closed to the public during varsity practice (generally from 3:00pm to 6:00pm).