Thursday, December 21, 2006

How Hard is "Hard"?

I was told recently by a friend that concrete is 10 times harder than asphalt. I don't know if what she told me is accurate or not, but she does have a PhD in Engineering and usually knows what she's talking about (she's also a 5 time IM finisher and has run at least a dozen marathons). This disturbed me because I tend to do most of my running on concrete sidewalks (see reasons below) rather than on roads. I may have to re-evaluate where I do my running.

Reasons that I run mostly on sidewalks:
1. The number one reason is that I like to listen to music while I run and sidewalks allow me to do so without the danger of being hit by a car that I can't hear.
2. I live in a suburban area and almost all of the neighborhoods that I run in have sidewalks.
3. When I was younger I used to run on the left shoulder of the road. I noticed that I was consistently wearing the soles of my shoes in an unbalanced way and realized that this lack of balance couldn't be good for my skeleton and musculature.
4. In the region where I live, there are lots of trees. The roots from the trees cause the sidewalks to shift in unpredictable ways. This means that I get truly random unevenness (a good thing) from the surfaces I run on. It's a little like trail running in the sense that you have to pay attention to the placement of each footfall. It requires that I be mentally alert when I run, which I like.
5. I do a fair amount of running in the early morning when it's dark. Because of the unevenness discussed above, I can't run on sidewalks when it's dark. However, I can still listen to music safely because the approaching headlights always warn me well in advance that a car is coming so that I can move from the center of the road (where I run on the level "crown" portion of the road) to the left side. BTW, I always wear a reflective vest when it's dark out.

1 comment:

Mister P. said...

I was running on sidewalks for a while and couldn't figure out why my shins were killing me all the time. Switched back to the road and pain stopped immediately. I agree with everything you say about problems with road or trail running, yet it's not worth the sidewalk injuries to me.