Friday, February 16, 2007

Take That!

For the first time in memory I emerged the victor after fighting another round on the rock hard track yesterday. Usually I spend the day after a track workout at the junior high complaining about a sore back, sore hips and sore quads, but today it was all good. Amazingly enough, a sharpening workout actually left me feeling sharp.

My only goal was to stay out for 6-8 easy miles this morning as I'm presently easing off for a 5K on Sunday. After about 10 minutes I checked the watch expecting to be at 7:20 pace and I was already down to 6:50 per mile. When the legs are moving faster than I want to (all too rare) I've taken to either dragging them up a few hills or concentrating on form to slow them down. Today I did both by veering off up the hilliest version of the Slow Down Loop and then focusing on proper form. Awhile back Mystery Coach sent me an email where he mentioned a switch that efficient runners make where they go from running "with" their legs to running "on" their legs. He suggested watching the footage of Ryan Hall breaking the American half marathon record here as a good example of this. In my case, I'm working on rotating the bottom of my pelvis forward (imagine tucking your butt in) in an effort to bring my legs more in line with my center of gravity, and then landing on slightly bent legs instead of pounding hard into the ground on my outside heel with leg extended almost straight. For the pelvis thing the coach sent me an old article by Bill Bowerman where he suggested standing up straight with your back against a wall, then working on trying to flatten out your back by rotating the bottom of the pelvis inward. It was hard to visualize until I got up from the computer and tried standing against the wall, but now I can usually feel when I've got it right while running (pelvic thrust anyone?).

Anyway, it was a nice run and it was great to feel like I was forcing myself to run slowly two days before a race.

Training: 8 miles, 53:43, 6:43 pace


Lawrence said...

I love mystery coach's comment:

[they go from] running "with" their legs to running "on" their legs.

Thanks for the link.

Eric said...

I tried running on my legs this morning. It was interesting. I started off before my run trying the example of standing against the wall and straightening my back. Basically it feels like flexing your glutes.

Oh, the imagery. Almost as bad as 'hip thrusting'.

Anyway, I tried replicating that feeling out on the road, and noticed right away that it almost eliminated knee lift. Impossible to run, so I must be missing some compensating motion. Sure enough, later in the run I was able to create that flexed feeling in the hips by adding some power to the toe off and kind of 'popping' each stride. Running that way, I had more of a midfoot plant and more back-kick, and I felt more up-and-down, although based on the motion of my headlamp, I was steady.

That all sounds good, but is it good? If it's not the natural stride your body came up with after a few thousand miles, should a person switch to it?

As runners, we're told there is nothing particularly technical about our sport. Therefore, we tend not to get wrapped up in modifications like these. Maybe that's the dirty little secret that takes someone from being a 2:17 also ran to a 2:07 contender. I don't know. I'm curious to know how big an impact it can make to change your stride mechanics. There are some very fast people with horrible mechanics. The key seems to be 'efficiency' as opposed to 'form'. Nice form may be inefficient. You just don't know. The results have to be judged on evidence.

What has not sitting in the bucket done for you lately?

Mike said...

I'd rather be running on your legs Eric. I should have mentioned that the form I'm talking about is more a posture issue than anything. I think it all goes back to "running tall", though landing on slightly bent legs actually can make you look shorter than other runners of similar height if they're striking hard on the heel with legs extended. I left out the forceful toe-off since it just seemed like too much information to put out there.

The "popping" stride you're talking about reminds me of the quick kick-back that I seem to see in many of the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners (Geb comes to mind). Seems to work for them. Bending your knee quickly like that after pushoff might work to "shorten the lever" of the leg too, making it easier to bring through the stride more quickly than a more extended leg.

As far as changing my natural stride, I think of it more as a posture issue. Naturally I've always had bad posture, but I keep on trying to correct it when I think about it.

Abadabajev said...

Midfoot striking(a la Lasse Viren) is the natural way in my opinion.
Get your video camera out and ask Haiden or Griffin to run barefoot in the livingroom, they are all midfoot strikers.

Your hips are 'tucked' under. If you look at the movie 'Without Limits', Bowerman explains how to tuck the hips under to Steve Prefontaine. May I use what he exactly said in the movie "Like at the moment of deepest penetration".

The midfoot makes contact with mother earth first, followed almost instantly by the heel, then the heel elevates off the ground and the midfoot is again alone still touching the ground then the push off. Some push off, some don't. Why push off when you can use gravity to propel you forward(with a slight forward lean) Of course this all happens before you can blink. As a result of this posture, your knee will come up higher to your chest if you raise your knee one at a time while standing still. You're not fighting your body mechanics.

But what do I know, I'm getting a lesson from Mystery Coach on lactate as a fuel(lactate can be your friend) in the other thread.