Thoughts on cement…

I’ve been asked in several times in the past why do I run so many miles on the concrete. This is usually in the frame of “you’re going to destroy your knees.” When I was just starting out as an outdoor runner I tended to listen to this question without a good answer and just run on the cement anyway. The question would simply become a worry in my mind about the inevitable end when my knees didn’t work anymore and I could no longer run. Now that I have over 10,000 miles of running experience I feel like I have a couple satisfying answers to this question…

  1. The easy answer is that as long as you have good shoes, good running form, and good biomechanics (this is the only thing not completely in your control, btw) then running on the cement may hasten your running lifespan but I don’t think it’s by any appreciable amount.
  2. The long answer is flow. Yes I know that’s not very long – this the tl;dr for what’s below

I gravitated to cement early on as a necessity, it was all around me when I started outdoor running in Los Angeles. There are a lot of people who would drive to trails or hiking spots to run but I was always simply a put on my gear and get outside type of runner. Eventually I started looking for trails too but I found them to be difficult. There were holes and branches and mud and all kinds of things that took me out of the act of running and made me focus on where my feet were landing. Some would argue that having to deal with all those things are what running should be but for me I always wanted to have as little in the way of moving faster and trails were most definitely not the path of least resistance. Cement is consistent and that becomes very important to achieving flow.

Flow, to me, is the state of being so aware that you’re not aware anymore. There is always a pattern to it; I start running, I get past the point of my lungs are burning and my muscles are waking up, I focus on foot fall for a bit (gotta land on that forefoot, don’t overstride), get your head up (this step is hard to do if you have to constantly scan the ground for a branch or a hole), count your breathing (inhale for 2 or 3, exhale for 2). Then if I’m lucky and enough out of my head all those things I consciously thought about suddenly fall away and I’m simply running, ie. I was acutely aware of those things before and now I’m not. My brain determined that they weren’t important anymore. I’ve stopped thinking and now I’m doing.

I’ve said it so many times before that if I could bottle that feeling I would be a millionaire because it’s honestly the biggest reason why I continue to pound pavement today. I’m addicted to that feeling (because I do have an addictive personality after all) and it’s why I’ll continue to chase it and continue to do so on cement. I may readjust to trails someday when my legs finally do deteriorate enough to necessitate it but I don’t see that being anytime soon. 😉


~ by gafoo on February 24, 2017.

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