Running Carefully & Focusing – 112/27/11

I have been doing the same run for the past 5 days and wanted a different route. Down back has been slippery and icy, but when I walked Bennie down there this morning it was almost runnable.

Almost runnable means that I can do it if I go slow and really pay attention to what I am doing.

How did it go?

There was a quite a bit of white ice, but it had melted enough on the edges and middle that I could get a little bit of grip.

No falls, a little bit of slipping and sliding, but nothing serious, no pulled muscles and I really worked on two pieces of my form while going through there and for most of the run.

  • not running like a penguin – leaving the V behind me
  • keeping my arms at 90 degree angle and not swinging them in front of me.

Those were my focus areas today. Not running like a penguin is going to be a long work in progress, still splaying out, but not nearly as bad as in the past (I snuck in landing correctly when everything else was going good). Keeping my arms at a 90 degree angle is how I used to run and it immediately felt natural to me (I had tried several other ways to hold my arms, but none of them felt comfortable), but I still found myself reaching across my body too often, I need to really focus on that aspect until it comes automatic.

I ran the 5 mile o/b course and as I came back up that damn hill, I really noticed my form fall apart and I had a real hard time trying to get it back. Actually didn’t get it back until I got on the tar and then it came back easily. I guess the footing was just a little too treacherous.

Quality of Run: Good focus run
Weight: 172
Time of Run: 2:35 PM
Temp: 40F
Weather: Cloudy and overcast – winds 5-10 mph from the south

The Hardest Thing About Running

The hardest thing about running for me is changing how I run.

Okay Shaw – what to hell are you talking about?

Change — is what I am talking about.

I have been looking for better ways to run, especially ways that make me faster or ideas that hold the promise of less injuries, for at least the last 30 or so years.

Like most runners, I have had several minor and some major injuries related to running, muscle imbalances, developed bad habits, gotten lazy, tried to find the perfect shoe to make-up for my horrible form or tried to change how I run (my form), but never made the real commitment needed to make the change permanent. Which meant that I instead of making my running better – those supposed beneficial changes became half-measures that contributed to a disjointed running style that has become extremely inefficient.

When you add in more than a couple of stooopid training regimens, which were beyond my actual conditioning at the time, along with the mindset that I still have the body and ability to recover of a 30 year old, when that was many years ago.

Being Proactive

Those ingredients I have listed are all part of a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. This is why I am trying to be proactive and figure a running style that meets my body’s needs.

I have 2 maybe 3 or more different running styles in this one short clip.

  1. as begin my run – my feet splay out, slap the ground,  arms are clenched, go across my chest and I am  hunched over.
  2. when I start thinking about how to hold my arms and try to run with more of a forefoot landing style it changes and looks all over the place
  3. and then falls apart again as I get closer.
It Sucks

Looking back at this clip, it shows pretty graphically how messed up my running style has become. There is no smoothness to my running, I feel like every thing is going in all directions instead moving straight down the road quietly and efficiently.

To be brutally blunt – my running form/style sucks and looking at it in that clip really makes me realize how disjointed it has become. I have watched it a few dozen times and it doesn’t get any better each time I watch it.

Need a Makeover

I need a complete running form makeover, to one that is more holistic and not so dependent upon shoes to protect me from myself. Which is the reality of how I run in this clip.

I have been searching for a running style that is learnable without having to spend great amounts of money or travel long distances to get the necessary coaching to affect the necessary changes. These changes need to be accomplished by reading books, watching videos and if someone is local who is willing to help me through some of the finer points that is gravy.

Most importantly I have to be able to teach myself this new running style based on the resources I have available to me, not on external resources that I probably don’t/won’t have access to.

Three Styles

After doing a lot of research and  reading since I returned to running in November, it has come down to three styles of running that I want to explore further:

  • Chi Running
  • The Pose Method
  • Barefoot Running i.e. Natural Running
Each has its vociferous adherents that their method is best, but I want to try each one out to see which one fits how I run using that method, versus how it works for someone else.
Getting Started

Since I already have the Chi Running book, this is where I have started, if that doesn’t do what I expect or want, then I will try The Pose Method and look a lot more closely at at Barefoot Running when it starts to get warmer out.

I really believe that the answer to how I want to run lies somewhere in these three methods/practices of running. It might be a hybrid of two or all three of these methods. Then again one of these methods may just feel right and fit how I run, after I figure out the basics of that method and start using it for a while.

Something I have noticed just since I started reading Chi Running on the 25th is that wrapping my head around how to accomplish these changes, some of the terminology and practicing the techniques in the books can be difficult, you do need (at least I do) the videos to help figure out what they are talking about.

YouTube has been a indispensable in this respect and can’t imagine what I would be doing without it having videos to help explain what the book is trying to say and the support from the #chirunning community on Twitter.  Yes I could buy the ChiRunning DVD, but that is just another added expense, so I won’t.

I will post a video of my progress update with ChiRunning so far, sometime the 1st or 2nd week of January.

The reality is that

I know how difficult it will be to make substantial and permanent changes to my running style/form. I do know that making these changes to my running style are necessary. The changes will improve my running efficiency, but more importantly they will help me remain injury free as possible, so I can still be running 20-30 years from now.

What will happen if I do not make these needed changes? Probably some short term successes in my age group, but too much time not running due to injuries or assorted minor aches and pains that never go away and make running much less enjoyable than it could be.

Change is never easy, but sometimes it is something that you have to do.

Here is to teaching an old dawg new tricks and finding a running form/method/style that works for me.

Have you taken a good look at your form lately – on video? You might be in for a bit of a surprise and the winter months are the perfect time to fix any problem areas or overhaul your form like I am going to do. Think about it and take a look.