I have had this book for several years but I have finally reached the point where I am actually ready to use it. Said another way, I’m desparate. If you want to follow along, Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett is a great resource for any runner. Dr. Starrett knows his stuff and I am hoping he can help me reclaim my running. No pressure, Starrett.
In this book, Starrett outlines 12 standards he feels I must meet to be Ready to Run. Some are about mobility, some are about lifestyle and some are about equipment. Today I will give myself a score (1-10) on each of these 12 standards. My baseline. I’m laying it all out there. Even though it is seriously embarrassing that I have let myself get to this point. If you are struggling with your run at all, I hope you will join me in my quest. Heck, even if you don’t run, you should be able to meet these standards.
Here we go.
Standard 1: Neutral Feet. Self-score: 8. My feet should be pointing straight forward when I am standing, walking and running. In general I stand with straight feet. It is hard to catch yourself unaware, but it seems to me that when I am standing my feet are generally straight. I gave myself less than perfect score because I can’t be sure I always have straight feet when running.
Standard 2: Flat shoes. Self-score: 10!!! I’ve been running in flat (zero drop) shoes for some time now. I have no calf or Achilles issues. Rock on.
At this point I was feeling pretty good about myself… for about a second.
Standard 3: A supple thoracic spine. Self-score: 1. I don’t need a test to tell me that I have a very stiff thoracic spine. Every physical therapist I have ever seen has told me my thoracic spine barely moves. Oopsie.
Standard 4: An efficient squatting technique. Self-score: 6. I have a decent squat, though I am leaning too far forward (we’ll blame the tight back, hips, ankles). But I can get to the required depth – below parallel – I can keep my knees from collapsing and from driving over my toes. Not too bad. I do know my squatting form deteriorates if I am doing a lot of squats in a workout. I know this because my coaches yell at me.
Standard 5: Hip flexion. Self-score: 4. This photo is of my good side. Starrett says I should be able to hold my leg up at 120 degrees or greater for 30 seconds. I measured the angle and I’m at about 110 degrees right here and I was able to hold it. The other side was a little harder.
Standard 6: Hip extension. Self-score: 3. My couch stretch (the measure) wasn’t as bad as I expected, but when I compare it to Starrett in the book, mine is clearly sub standard. I know I have very tight hips and poor hip extension in general.
Standard 7: Ankle range of motion. Self-score: 0. Probably I should give myself less than zero on this one. Seriously embarrassing. This photo is my attempt to get into the standard position. I’m supposed to be able to make it all the way down with my feet flat on the ground and THEN I am supposed to be able to extend one leg out in front and do what we call a pistol. This is as far as I got. I have some major work to do here.
Standard 8: Warming up and cooling down. Self-score: 3. I have my moments, but like most runners I often don’t take enough time to warm up and cool down. As I have aged, I have been forced to warm up more, often by walking and doing some dynamic movements. But I need to be a lot better at this. I know this; I harp on all my athletes about it. Do as I say…
Standard 9: Compression. Self-score: 8. I have Normatec recovery boots and I am very good at using them regularly. But I could probably be better at getting compression on my legs immediately after a run. I do sometimes wear compression socks when I run and bike. Which embarrasses my friends. But I’m not doing too badly here and I do know the importance of compression.
Standard 10: No hot spots. Self-score: 0. This is one of the major reasons I knew I needed to start taking this stuff seriously. My left knee has become extremely painful – not when I run, but at all other times. My right knee is not much better. I cannot sit for more than a few minutes without being in a lot of pain from the chronic inflammation in my knees. This is almost certainly a result of poor form due to lack of mobility. I also have what I believe is chronic high hamstring tendinopathy on my right side – this has plagued me on and off for many years, but it has become more or less constant now. My neck often hurts and two years ago I had an inflamed disc that completely sidelined me. Should I go on?
Standard 11: Hydration. Self-score: 10! One possible caveat here is that it is possible I overhydrate. I drink a LOT of water. I am going to order some Rapid Response Urine Dipsticks to test. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? I’ll make sure to include all the details.
Standard 12: Jumping and landing. Self-score: 7. Not bad on this one. I’m a little too bent over, possibly because I have to look at the box to make sure I don’t miss. I suspect my tight back and hips and ankles are playing their parts too. But my feet land straight, and while my knees aren’t pushed out as much as the standard wants, they aren’t collapsing.
It is a little overwhelming when I look at just how pitiful some of my scores are. But I am going to commit to this. You need to keep me honest.
I keep reminding myself that I can’t fix everything RIGHT NOW. My initial focus will be on mobility, specifically on my ankles, knees and hips. They are only the three joints in my legs. Nothing major.
My goal for this first week is to spend at least 20 minutes in the morning and evening working on my mobility. I have the time. I have balls and bands and rollers. I just need the discipline. It is funny how I can train for hours every day but spending 20 minutes on mobility seems like such a chore.
I am also going to try to sit in the bottom of the squat for as long as I can (not long currently) throughout the day. This is sometimes called the third world squat – if you have ever traveled to a third world country you will see people sitting for hours in this squat. This is how we should all sit, but we richer countries have the luxury of chairs. Chairs that are trying to kill us.
I completed a very painful 20 minutes this morning and just finished an equally painful 25 minutes. Those balls and bands and rollers take no prisoners. No pain no gain, right?
I know I won’t see results any time soon, but I’ll check in weekly to let you know what I’ve done and any changes I do see. And hopefully my journey will motivate you to take this stuff seriously too.