If you recall, a few weeks ago I promised a multi-week piece on good form. Little did you know that it meant it would be a couple weeks before the next post, ha!
Anyhow, to review: good form can be broken down by 1) midfoot strike, 2) running tall, 3) cadence, and 4) toe off. I wrote last time about the midfoot strike, so on to running tall. This one seems like an easy one. I mean, who wants to run short? Or run slouchy? HOWEVER, it’s rampant–partly because people, particularly women, have poor posture to begin with. Factor in double digit miles and tiredness and you get the picture. As much as I hate to admit it, running involves more than just strong legs and mental toughness. It involves quite a bit of core work.
Now before you get your panties in a bunch about why women have worse posture, let me explain. I’ve been talking a lot with Nicole of Mama’s Gotta Move about the importance of core for runners, but particularly the various core issues women (especially post-partum) have with weak core muscles. (Sidebar: She’s AMAZING and definitely a great resource/trainer for this, and has published in Runner’s World and other magazines about this.) This actually can lead to the breakdown of your body in other ways as you try to compensate.
As an example, I know someone who is a perfectly lovely woman. She has a one-year-old at home (and another child) and her posture is painful to observe. It looks somewhat like a backwards question mark, with slouched shoulders and severely tucked in pelvis. If you then imagine the pressure on your spine and legs over miles running in that kind of position, you can begin to imagine the issues. Without good posture and core strength, she would essentially be collapsing in on herself with every stride.
With the running tall, there are actually two parts: a) posture and b) lean. I like the visual from yoga of imagining a string pulling you up from the crown of your head to the sky so that everything is nice and straight. Another way to visualize or practice this is to imagine/place a book upon your head (hello RunNerdider Lady’s Finishing School!) and walk around. If you demonstrate poor posture or slump either your head or shoulders, the book will fall.
Obviously if you were that stiff and rigid while you were running, that wouldn’t work either but you get the idea. You could try it with a bean bag for more give. So that’s the posture part.The other part is to lean slightly forward FROM YOUR ANKLES. To get a feel for what this means, stand as straight as you can and maintain that straight line from head to ankles and lean a bit forward keeping everything straight (so that your body looks like a math problem about angles). One workshop I attended on form suggested leaning until you almost fell into your next step and using that momentum. But always keeping that tall feeling. Leaning forward will also help keep your feet under your hips and prevent you from overstriding. If you want an extreme visual of what this looks like, look at a sprinter. When I was watching Race, they showed some of Owen’s training, particularly starting out. He was almost parallel to the ground for his first several steps, but he still had good posture and was really working to push off. Obviously you can’t keep that going, but that visual helps me think about my body and the power of my legs.
So this week try thinking about pulling yourself straight when you’re running, PARTICULARLY when you’re tired. I’ve noticed that I tend to lean back when I run, which places me more on my heels and requires more effort (and more pressure on my legs). Whenever I run by shop windows, I tend to check my posture–I swear it’s not to check if I look cute 🙂 Use opportunities to check in on what you’re doing and to correct yourself when you can! And obviously good posture is helpful outside of running as well.
On a very different note, I recently got an email from Boston that we are less than 50 days away. How is that possible? I can not think of another time that I’ve gone into a training cycle feeling so nervous and unsure. And even unprepared. I’m not sure if it’s because this race has been such a long-coming endeavor or because it’s BOSTON, but it’s FREAKING ME OUT. I think the fact that Patty, Jen, and I are all struggling with the training hasn’t been helping any of us. I keep vacillating about reading more about the race and learning as much as possible or doing the “don’t read/ignore/block everything until I’m there” route. Patty is going with the read everything and over-prepare route, but I don’t see it helping her anxiety about the race (sorry, Patty) so that doesn’t hold much promise for me. It also seems foolhardy to not go into the race with any understanding of what to expect either. Argh. Thoughts on race preparation and quelling nerves, etc? How do you manage anxiety around big races? Chime in with what you got!
And finally, I’m on Facebook. I’ve set up the blog to post through my new Facebook page as well. I know a lot of people spend more time reading on Facebook if they’re not heavy blog-readers, so you can catch me on there or here. I might also post up random thoughts that aren’t full posts there as well.
Happy running this weekend folks. Hope everyone gets a great long run in!