I love running because I can do it almost anywhere and any time, but after several years of running with poor form, I have mostly switched to lower impact exercises like swimming and biking. I still run once or twice a week, making an effort to use good form. I'm hoping that with good form, good shoes, and good surfaces, I'll be able to run for decades to come!

Poor running form I never ran track and field or had any formal coaching on how to run or jog. Naively, I thought you just did it. So for years my form looked like this. Notice that my rear leg is not fully extended, my front leg is raised up quite high off the ground. My physical therapist explained to me that I was bouncing up and down a lot, which is both inefficient and hard on the knees and ankles. Poor running form

Good running form He explained that by fully extending my rear leg and keeping my front leg closer to the ground, the impact is a lot lower on my body. I have also mostly switched from toe-striking to heal-striking because I find it forces me to use this better form. If I toe-strike then I have a tendency to bounce up and down too much. That said, my physical therapist claims there is nothing inherently bad about either toe-striking or heel-striking, it's strictly a personal preference. Good running form

Physical therapy I highly recommend consulting with a physical therapist if you are dealing with any muscle or joint issues. I like to think of physical therapists as personal trainers with a formal education! They can help with stretching, strengthening, and avoiding bad exercises! Connecticut has a direct access law that lets you see a physical therapist without a referral from a doctor, which reduces the hurdles getting help. For an acute injury, it's probably best to see a doctor first, but I've really benefited from physical therapy for chronic muscle, joint, and tendon issues.

Good running shoes In my previous life, I bought a new pair of sneakers every year and wore them everywhere for everything. By the end of the year they were full of holes, had no tread, and had very little support. I've learned that a quality pair of sneakers is an investment just like physical therapy. I have been wearing Altra running shoes for the past few months, and they provide excellent support. Altra is known for their “foot-shaped” design, which has a wide toe-box to reduce pressure around your toes. I find this reduces the nerve sensitivity I occasionally experience in my left foot. Altra running shoes


Posted by Abraham

It's easy to stay in shape living in a city. As an undergrad at UChicago, I walked around the campus everyday, and took public transit downtown on the weekends and then walked some more. In Boston, I biked almost everywhere year round (1). From my apartment to Harvard to MIT to Back Bay to the MFA to Whole Foods and back home. Then I slept.

After graduating I took a job in Connecticut and got a car. A car spoils you. Getting groceries is easier. Getting to work is easier. You don't have to walk when it's cold...or hot...or rainy...or basically ever. Not being in the habit of working out, I started to get back pain after about a year of this.

I started PT and learned that my hamstrings, hip flexors, and lower back were tight. And my legs and abs were weak. So I started doing stretches before and after work and taking 20min walks mid afternoon. After 2-3 months, my back was feeling a lot less tense. After that experience I'm a believer in PT.

But I want to do more than just treat back pain: I want to have energy and be strong and be able to eat whatever I want. It's hard to stay in shape as a working adult. You have to plan when to work out and when to eat. When it it okay to be drenched with post workout sweat at work and when isn't it. I prefer outdoor activities because there is build in leverage to go some distance (you can't bike 4 miles out and call it quits in the next town!), but what if it's cold or hot or wet?

For the past few months, my workouts have been

  • Swimming at the YMCA. I love swimming, and it's low impact and it's hard to overdo it. It's takes a big chunk of time though: I get heartburn unless I wait 2-3 hours after I eat, and of course it takes twice as long as running because I have to drive there, change, and shower before and after.
  • Biking up East rock park. This is usually a fun workout, but not when its 85 degrees outside.
  • Running. Fun when it's cool. Unpleasant when it's hot. I make sure to drink water 20 minutes before working out instead of during the run in order to minimize GERD symptoms.
  • Kayaking. Good upper body exercise, and it's definitely cooler on the lake than on land. But same complaints as swimming: lots of overhead.
  • YouTube ab workouts by MadFit (standing workout, lying down workout)


Posted by Abraham