Thursday, April 12, 2012

Running Clinic - Number 2

First of all, yes - I giggle every time I say 'number 2'.  Secondly, we held a second running clinic the other night.  Trying to teach injury-free, economical, speedy running in an hour is both futile and feudal!  Naturally, what makes more sense is to teach some 'proprioception' - a few drills to illustrate what good running form encompasses and how it feels.  It is a big shift to try to reprioritize how you run.  For example, just the action of increasing cadence may leave you winded more quickly - although you will quickly adapt to it. Therefore there is plenty of homework, things to do before, after and during your runs.

1. Before: The myofascial release and compression techniques.  Drills from session one and two include finding the midfoot, 100ups, ball of foot hops, exaggerated foot pulls, wall drill showing foot pulls, wall leans (running in place).  Focus on the foot tracking the inside of the planted leg - remember how that feels and carry it over into your runs.  Turning off muscles you're not using.

2. During: Look-lean-listen.  Look, eyes at horizon - good upright posture, hips open (no folding at the waist!) Lean, leaning forward at the ankle - the faster the cadence the less load per step.  The more the lean, the more the speed.  Listen, listening to your foot landing - scuffing is landing in front of your center-of-mass, scraping is excessive toe-off or pushing off.  Think about carrying a metronome (or metronome app on your phone).  Set it to 90 and with every 'beep' lift your right foot.  Focus on lifting, not landing.  The landing will come, just be in the right place when it happens :^).  

3. After: Stretching with bands, wall stretches.  Of course, hydrate and consider electrolyte replenishment depending on weather.  Hours later, another session of self myofascial release and compression will assist in recovery.  

It doesn't matter how long your run is.  Paying attention to these few cues (and drills to prepare) will ensure you're running smartly and in a way that's concurrent with the way we're built.  

Bonus activity: The sock test.  Use an old pair of socks you don't care about.  Take a relaxing warmup run (in your normal running shoes) to the local high school track in the evening.  Loosen up, warm up.  Run a 400m wearing just the pair of socks on your feet.  After lap one inspect them for any holes or excessive wear.  Repeat a lap and reinspect.  Soon you'll notice worn spots on the bottom of your socks.  This wear will be a huge revealer on where your running form is failing.  For example, pushing off with your toes will wear a hole quickly on the meat of the big toe.  Make adjustments, remember how it feels.  Run at whatever pace is comfortable.  Then the 'trick' is to remember those feelings even after you put your shoes back on.  Some of us will press reset and repeat our bad form, but if you think about the sensations, the stride length, etc. you'll transfer what you've learned.  Obviously converting to thinner zero-drop shoes helps too ;).

Lemme know what you think - opinions are crucial!