Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I'm a bit of a plodder. I've written about running "like I'm sitting in a bucket" plenty of times, and it's a hard habit to break. Thinking about propelling myself forward with each stride and wasting as little energy as possible when I strike the ground takes up much of each run, and when I concentrate I sometimes feel I get it right for at least a minute or so.

Mystery Coach has commented on form often since he started helping me, and he chipped in again after looking at several still photos from my marathon last month. I simply bend my knees too much and waste too much time and energy while on the ground. There's a photo in Arthur Lydiard's "Running the Lydiard Way" that shows Lasse Viren running on the track. Arthur comments that you can see that his leg just after take-off is a straight line from his hip to the tip of his toe after push off. I'm all angles. The good runners are already starting their paw-back just before they hit the ground, which is something I'm trying to ease into myself.

There's no way to fix this overnight, but I have been working on it. To that end, today I headed out to Sabino Canyon for a few downhill 800's at the coach's suggestion. I'm not running off a cliff or anything, but it is enough of a hill that I have to force myself forward to keep from braking, which is what I start doing (inadvertently) when I tire during the latter stages of a run. I started with just two today and covered the roughly measured 1/2 mile in 2:23 and 2:13. It took a fair amount of concentration to stay upright and in the right position, but with some practice it should get easier. This on top of the 8x300 jogs/100 sprints I did earlier in the run on the icy track made for a good day of leg-stretching. The hips should feel it tomorrow.

I ended last week with 71 miles after a long-ish run of 15 miles with my local running gang. Kiera enticed a good group up to our side of town with homemade cinamon rolls. Yeah, I guess those 10 pounds might take a bit longer to lose.

Training: 2/5, 10 miles, 1h8m, 6:56 pace, w/8x300 jog, 100 sprint, plus 2x.5 mile downhill in 2:23, 2:13
2/4, 6 soggy miles, 41m, 6:46 pace
2/3, 15 miles, 1h47m, 7:08 pace m


Andrew said...

When I get the plods I go to this video on YouTube and go to the 6:50 mark.

It's Seb Coe running in slow motion, love him or loath him, it's an awesome sight.


The technical aspects you mention are there as well as an amazing 'flick' with his ankle.

I don't know what it is, but just watching that helps me concentrate on my form.

Anonymous said...

Aren't there some drill work that can assist you with this as well?

Downhill strides are good, of course, but there might be other, lowkey ways of addressing this issue...

Grellan said...

Mike did you try any of the proprioceptive cues listed in "Brain Training for Runners" by Matt Fitzgerald. I find some of them quite good for improving my stride, although I do agree that keeping concentration on form is a constant battle.

Mike said...

Very cool video Andrew, thanks for the link. No ankle flicking from me for a little while I guess with the ankle though.

Joseph, there are certainly plenty of other good drills out there, including the one's from Fitzerald's book that Grellan mentioned. I'll be working in plenty of others once the ankle is strong again. Downhill running certainly isn't for everyone, and a little can go a long way.

Thanks for the comments.

Ewen said...

I have a similar problem Mike - although more 'slow turnover' than 'sitting down'. I should try some fast downhill repeats - it's a matter of finding the perfect slope - not sure there's an 800m one around here - maybe 400 or so will have to do. Thanks for the suggestion.

Good to hear the ankle is OK.