How Did I Become an Injury Free Runner?

After an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture during what became my final basketball game, I picked up running in August 2010 as part of my recovery. I never stopped running ever since… except when I was flirting with (overtraining?) injuries just before or after race days.

After 2 years of more or less consistent running, I marked the DVV Antwerp Marathon in the spring of 2013 as my marathon debut. I was happy to complete my first marathon slightly above 3 hours. However, I was far from satisfied with the overall preparation, because I was unable to complete the predetermined training plan due to pain in and inflamation of my achilles tendons. Moreover, I needed to rely on anti-inflammation medicines to cope with running while training and on race day.

Afterwards, I was determined to complete a second marathon whenever I became an injury free runner. Therefore I consulted UZA s.p.o.r.t.s and completed an endurance and gait analysis test. This confirmed that my arch supports turned me into a neutral runner with a midfoot stride.

After completing my third Antwerp 10 Miles in 2016 after yet another round of small aches, I decided to restart working on my running form. Therefore I rewatched all Newton Running Form Friday exercises, reduced my training load and started these shorter runs only after performing these drills. During a city trip to New York, I bought my first discounted pair of Newton Running Gravity IV shoes.

In Januari 2017, I started running all my training sessions with this new pair of running shoes, just like I always did, and thus disregarding the advice to break in the new shoes gently. After a couple of runs I got pain in my achilles tendons and on the soles of my feet. I took a break to get rid of the pain. Then I started again for the second time. This resulted again in pain and I took rest again to prevent further injury. When I started for a third time, the pain immediately returned and I started doubting the Newton Running shoes. So, I decided to swap back to my old pair of running shoes. Both during and after the run I was pain free. Moreover, I was able to complete the training schedule with my previous pair of running shoes. I finished the DVV Antwerp 10 Miles race just in the top 1000 in a decent time of 1:08:25. Afterwards I decided to give the Newton Running shoes a fourth and final trial.

Why was I so stubborn to keep on running with Newton Running Gravity shoes? Whenever I put on the pair of Newtons, I immediately got good feedback on how my feet touched the ground. I felt the more natural support and it was closer to running barefoot. More importantly, I could feel I had a midfoot stride, but I noticed that I became a rearfoot striker near the end of my runs. This means I needed to keep paying attention on my gait especially when fatigue kicks in. Moreover, it allowed me to train doing a mindful body scan on my feet even wearing the more cushioned running shoes.

So, after the race I decided to give the Newton Gravity another shot, but this time following the advice to break the shoes in gently. However, I was not inclined to give up my good running fitness. Instead of cutting back on distance I decided to swap running shoes during training. The first week I started to run the first 1 km during my regular runs and 2 km on my long slow distance (LSD) runs in my Newton Gravity shoes while completing the rest of the run on my old pair of running shoes. I noticed no aches during and after all runs, so I increased the distance respectively to 2 km for and 4 km the second week. Again no pain, so I increased the distance covered on my Newton Running segments to 3 km and 6 km. I kept on increasing the mileage always with 1 km for my regular runs and 2 km for my LSD runs. Always starting out the run in Newtons, returning home and switching back to my old running shoes. I kept on increasing mileage until I reached 7 km and 14 km on Sunday in my Newton Running shoes while keeping the total mileage the same.

M T W T F S S
1 1 1 2
2 2 2 4
3 3 3 6
4 4 4 8
5 5 5 10
6 6 6 12
7 7 7 14

After that I transitioned slowly to an alternating running scheme. The first run of the week I would start the first 7 km in Newtons, completing the training with old shoes. The second training I would increase the distance on my Newton Running Gravity shoes again by 1 km. So first 7 km, then 8 km, until I completed the run totaling 17 km. The third run in the week, I decreased running in Newton Running shoes from 7 km to 0 km in Newton running shoes. I didn’t run any long slow distance runs these weeks. During this transition schedule again I felt great and had not even a single pain or ache. It felt that I’d become a better midfoot striding runner, always sensing how my feet touched the ground regardless of the pair of running shoes I wore.

M T W T F S S
7 7 7
7 8 6
7 9 5
7 10 4
7 11 3
7 12 2
7 13 1
7 14 0
7 15 0
7 16 0
7 17 0

Afterwards, I reintroduced SLD runs and switched to a bi-weekly running scheme such that for most training sessions I altered my different running shoes (A: Newton Running Gravity, B: Mizuno Wave Rider). Using this bi-weekly rotating scheme, I ensured that each pair covered around the same mileage and was used for various and similar training stimuli. This way, I slowly built up my SLD runs and in the spring of 2019 I was ready to run a sub-three marathon, but most importantly after a completely pain and injury free preparation.

M T W T F S S
A B A B
B A B A

Up until now, I’m still running pain and injury free spending more time on my feet (see the zoned bars) and covering more mileage (marked by the black dots) than I ever did before.

Yearly Totals 2010 - 2021

Keep on running (injury free)!