Recently I decided that I needed to learn how to run backwards. I came to this conclusion after several group training runs with Team Challenge when I wanted to be able to face my runners while talking to them during a run. I felt like I would be too clumsy if I did it though, and the odds of me falling down were probably pretty high*. So I did what any self-respecting geek girl in this day-and-age would do when they’re curious about something… I Googled it!
Turns out, there is a lot of information on running backwards. And it’s also known by several different names: backwards running, retro running, retro locomotion or the German name of Rückwartslaufen.
The practice does have cult followings that have decided it necessary to run that way all the time. Can you imagine if you saw someone running down the road backwards? Then can you imagine if you saw that same person doing that regularly? Kind of weird… but the reasons for it are pretty interesting.
One benefit is that it’s supposed to help counter-balance the strain that comes from regular forward running. Backward running is a way to overcome fear (like walking on hot coals?). And integrating backward running and side-step running into your routine can help you develop a more effective range of motion, thus reducing the chance of injury.
Just like with barefoot running, I have no aspirations to do this all the time or in a race. But I think mixing some drills into my training could make me a stronger running. Most sources recommend that you begin with backward walking (retropedaling) to begin the strengthening. I considered trying to incorporate a little of this into my day on my treadmill, but that feels really weird. I think this is due to the direction the belt travels. I could always drive to one of the resorts on The Strip or to the airport and walk on moving walkways, but that’s way too much effort out of my normal schedule for something that I’m not even sure would be that beneficial.
What do you think – would you run backwards if it could help improve your running?
*Sometimes I think my parents should have named me Grace, as a sort of ironic opposite to how I really am. If there’s a wall nearby, I’ll run into it. My legs are always covered in bruises that I have no recollection of how I obtained them. And trust me when I say that falling down the stairs at a movie theatre is not the show the audience was expecting and it’s embarrassing to have to describe to the staff there that it’s your butt that is wounded.
Backward running image from www.backward-running-backward.com/