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TWELVE years ago, running on consecutive days was all but a dream for Ngunnawal’s Dr Pete Garbutt, whose knees would be painfully swollen days after a run.
Having a young son and daughter made it all the more painful for Pete, who wanted to run around with them, rather than watch them run.
Following years of research Pete, 46, now runs every day without his knees swelling or getting sore.
As a chiropractor, he often noticed patients with similar issues and began, through classes, helping people change how they ran.
During the process he realised a need for more and more information, so he decided to write a book, “The Running Machine: A User’s Guide”, which aims to make running fun again.
“One of the biggest hurdles for many would-be runners is that they have simply lost the joy they once had, whether it was before their last injury or when they were a child,” Pete says.
“Running is supposed to be enjoyable and when we take away things that work against it, we can enjoy movement.
“If you go and watch a bunch of kids running, you’ll be hard pressed to find one not smiling. It’s a natural way to express our energy.”
Pete, who lectures around the world sports on chiropractic and running technique, is the director of Enhance Healthcare in Mitchell and started Enhance Running, but had never written a book before.
“I wanted it to be easy to read but still backed by the evidence in scientific literature,” Pete says.
Within the book Pete doesn’t reveal the “perfect way” to run. Instead he points out the common mistakes runners make.
“There’s not one perfect way to run, there’s just common mistakes that we see,” he says.
“Running is a skill, like everything else. Most kids run really well and then we unlearn how to run.”
One of the biggest mistakes he noticed, in himself and in others, is when people over-stride or take large steps.
“Research suggests, for a lot of people, if we decrease our stride length it’s easier,” he says.
“Taking smaller steps doesn’t mean you need to run slower, you just take smaller steps.
“Posture is another common one. We see a lot of postural fault sitting and it translates into running.
“I think our sedentary lifestyle has a lot to do with it. We sit to work, we sit to eat, we sit to relax and then, when we’re finished, we look for another reason to sit.”
Just like any skill or sport, Pete says gradual change is really important.
“Our body is a running machine,” Pete says. “As with any machine, if it suffers from misuse or lack of use, then it underperforms and breaks down.
“When it is maintained well and used as it was designed, then it runs smoothly.
“For me it’s not about hitting a certain distance, but the joy of a natural movement.
“Since the days of going out running with my dad as a boy, running has been a release, a time of meditation and as much for my mind as for my body.”
“The Running Machine: A User’s Guide” ($24.95) from enhancerunning.com.au