RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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Form Friday: That time I changed my form part 2

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.

I have a lot on my mind

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.

https://www.facebook.com/runnerdier

Happy running this weekend folks. Hope everyone gets a great long run in!


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That time I changed my running form 

Running form. The thing that is blamed for so much and seems so simple. You just have to: Run tall. Lean forward. Lean from your ankles. Drop your shoulders. Drop your hands. Don’t drop your hands too much. Hit midfoot. Push off. Run around 180 steps per minute. Breathe. Relax. Bring up your knees. Kick back your foot. Wear minimal shoes. Wear maximal shoes. Pump your arms. Breathe 3:2. Run with a metronome. Don’t cross your arms across your midline. See? Easy.

Maybe not.

I decided to do a multi-week series on good running form. Primarily 1) midfoot strike, 2) running tall, 3) cadence, and 4) toe off. There are a million different categorizations you can find, from Good Form Running to Chi Running and others, but I think about it in the 4 ways I cited.

Let’s start with how I even became a big nerd about running form (and then on to midfoot strike). The book that changed a lot of people’s understandings of running, Born to Run. That book shifted the paradigm of many runners. It revealed the fact that there was no significant decrease in running-related injuries since the advent of the running shoe, and in fact, perhaps it led to increased injury because it allowed for poor running form. It’s no small secret that if you know a runner, you know someone who’s been injured at least once. Pardon the over-simplification, but what Born to Run argues is that the running shoe has allowed us–perhaps encouraged us–to run with bad form. Primarily heel-striking. When you run barefoot, you are naturally inclined to strike mid-foot (meaning, towards the middle of your foot where your arch can take and re-distribute the force of hitting the ground). Try it. With running shoes, because there is such a big heel stack, (i.e., the amount of height your heel has in relation to your toes. Traditionally, this was 12 mm but has been dropping since B2R), you’re encouraged to strike the ground with your heel first, which is more stress and pressure on your legs and actually works to brake your forward motion.

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From crossfitamplify.com

Reading B2R made me think about my running history, injuries, and form. I had always been in stability shoes. And I’d been injured frequently. The idea of changing my form and changing my shoes started with the book but grew the more I read. Having wide and relatively flat feet, though, I was discouraged from going to the minimal shoes–specifically Vibrams, which were a huge rage when Born to Run first came out. However, I knew that the stability shoes weren’t necessarily preventing injury, so I decided to make the very gradual change to more neutral or minimal-ish shoes over time. I had read enough to know that most people got injured in the transition because they took it too quickly. Your feet and legs are not used to running in this fashion. In fact, they’ve learned to compensate over time, so it takes a little while to get them adjusted. Over the course of a year, I steadily dropped down my heel-toe stack (I wear 4 mm now) and moved to neutral shoes.

 

 

Part of the dropped heel’s appeal is that it encourages more of a mid-foot strike. It does not necessarily guarantee it nor is it a magic cure-all for all possible injury. But this was the start. As I was transitioning my shoes, I started really thinking about landing less on my heel and more on my midfoot. I wasn’t always sure what that meant, though, and wasn’t sure if that was what I was actually doing. It felt like I was striking midfoot, but how would I know? Well, as I’ve written before, one way is to check the bottom wear of your shoes. I can’t find the picture of the heel of these Newtons (from this past summer), but I could see that I was definitely hitting with my left heel but not my right, and you can see the uneven wear under the forefoot as well. Small imbalances over time and constant repetition. Not good.

 

Here’s the thing, though. Midfoot strike isn’t the holy grail. The reason midfoot strike is encouraged is that it prevents what’s called overstriding, which is when your foot is out in front of your knee. THAT is what causes increased stress, pressure, and injury. You can actually be a heel striker and NOT overstride. And technically, although more difficult, you could midfoot strike and still overstride.

I was at Roadrunner Sports the other week to shoe shop and see Bill. He demanded I get on the treadmill because the last time I was there, I was told (by ShoeDog) that I needed stability shoes…mostly because I heel strike, though not badly, and I pronate. For vaguely unclear, irrational reasons, I refuse to buy stability shoes. He wanted to see what the visual proof was so he had me get up on their treadmill and recorded me running. And I was vindicated. I no longer heel strike (although I am collapsing my left ankle in a bit). Like the big runnerd I am, I used my phone to record the video that was taken and shown to me in the store. I wish they would make a profile so you could keep that data! As you can see in the first photo, my midfoot is striking first. In yo’ face, Bill!! Just kidding, I love you.

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One visual I use to help me think about keeping my feet under me is driving my knees up and envisioning the rest of my leg folding up with my knee. Here’s a nice demonstration.

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Anyhow, hope you enjoyed my super runnerd post. In the meanwhile, here are some form drills and exercises you can try to keep working on form while you wait on next week’s post on Running Tall.


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Friday Failures

In the last two days–actually on Wednesday, I discovered two things: 1) I couldn’t put my full weight on my right heel when I got out of bed and 2) my semester was starting a full week earlier than I had been thinking. Epic fails.

Wednesday morning, I got out of bed and could barely put weight on my right heel. My right ankle/foot had been bothering me a little bit, feeling super tight, but I thought little of it. The minute I realize I had heel pain, my mind flashed to plantars fasciitis. I’ve never had it, never really looked into it, so I wasn’t even sure if I was on to something. However, I had heard people say that the pain was the worst immediately after getting out of bed.

I’m not going to lie. I thought with all my form stuff and partially minimal shoes, etc., I was “immune” from this common runner’s injury. So I started Googling the heck out of it and messaging the friends who’ve dealt with such issues in the past. The most useful link in my VERY brief Google searching was actually on Wikipedia (here), mostly because I liked the image of the various locations and degrees of pain. I had thought plantars happened more along the arch and midpoint of the foot. When I saw that it was most concentrated smack in the flat of the heel, I freaked out. I quickly flipped through various strategies of dealing with it–rocking back and forth and keening in horror was one. I went with contacting my running coach/massage therapist/nerd of all trades, Bill Underwood. I knew he would be able to give me some ideas as to WHY I got it, treat it, and give some tips on treating it further. I’m not going to lie, if I already have a good idea what the issue is, I’d rather bypass the whole doctor/PT thing and go straight to my own remediation plan. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to go somewhere X times a week and pay someone to watch me do exercises I could do at home…

Getting a massage from Bill is like childbirth. Unmedicated childbirth. You know it will be rewarding, but it’s painful as f*. There is screaming and cursing, though no tears. Or blood. There is sometimes bruising. But he’s awesome and it works. He’s also funny and free-flowing with the running advice and nerd talk.

Anyhow, we did a rundown of why I was getting plantars now when I “hadn’t” changed much. Um. Except, it turns out I had. I have been doing suddenly some longer trail runs. Oh, and the last two trail runs were in new shoes. Oh, and I’m switching up shoes that are drastically different (stability vs neutral). And I’m still heel-striking like a mofo…So. Yeah. Bill was like, “Um, just going for all the stuff, huh?”

Ok, so let’s start with the trail stuff. Whenever you drastically/significantly switch up running surfaces, you want to be careful. Different surfaces require different things of your feet and legs. Sudden long mileage (ahem, particularly in new shoes) on a different surface doesn’t give your body enough time to adapt. I also foolishly believed that switching to another minimal type trail shoe (Altra Superior) would be okay without a huge breaking in process, because I was already running in partially minimal shoes and the trail would make it okay (for some reason, I want to act like the trail is a “buffer” for things…yeah, no logic).

I also tend to have a “stable” of shoes I rotate through a lot, because I’ve read that can be better for you–having more than one pair to rotate through. So, this is my shoe collection from the semester. To be fair, I was getting ready to rotate two pairs out, one was a mostly recovery pair, and one was a pair I kept mostly from cross-training. But still…

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Row 1: Saucony Kinvara 5 (both, although I swear that white one is different). Row 2: Saucony Guide, Brooks Pure Cadence, and Newton Energy.

The Kinvara’s are hands down my favorite. I like the Brooks Pure series, but I’ve read they’ve been getting narrower in their updates so I’ve avoided them (I’ve run in the Flow and the Cadence). I WANT to like Newtons, and I liked the Gravity ok though it felt a bit clunky at times. The Energy are more streamlined, but I found them lackluster. And the Guides were an attempt to actually listen to what the “experts” say, which is that I should wear a stability shoe. They felt really chunky, though, and have the highest heel drop in the lot (8 mm) so I’d been using them primarily for recovery runs. However, I decided to take them to California last weekend (I was visiting my sister and her new baby, post to come on that) and wear them on my long run (13-14 miles). I can’t remember my reasoning for it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the most logical or rational-thinking at times… I think it was because my ankle had been wonky and I thought they would better support them? Yeah, bad idea.

In my training journal for those runs, I wrote that I hated the Guides. They feel really big and that it forces a heavier heel strike from me. Bill scolded me for switching between so many neutral shoes and a stability shoe, and then throwing in the trail shoe and the trail running, my legs and feet were PO’ed about all the changes I was throwing at them. So I need to make up my mind and decide if I’m stability or neutral. I’m going with neutral, but I also know that I am by nature a heel striker, and somewhat uneven in my strike as well. See picture below.

 

I didn’t have a photo of the heels before I donated them, but you can see from the tread on the lugs of these Newtons, that I’m pushing more heavily from my left foot. Being asymmetrical in running is never good–especially for distance runners.

Because I know I’m a heel striker and this is putting a lot of load on my heels/calves/feet, Bill really encouraged me to make sure I was activating my glutes by either raising my knees higher or really thinking about kicking back when I run and really trying to get on my midfoot. I’m over-relying on smaller muscles in my lower legs and being inefficient in my form, which is causing all kinds of wacky things. I also need to stretch seriously and rekindle my romance with the Grid roller and my Orb. I’ve been getting lazy, which was obvious to Bill as he tried to break my ITB in half and then proceeded to gouge my very tender hips (something I wasn’t aware was tight or sore, sigh).

So. Plan of action. Stick with neutral shoes. I think I’m going to try and see Bill at Roadrunner Sports where he works this weekend to try some new ones. Work on my form. Fit in yoga at least once a week. Foam roll/massage like crazy. And I took two days off from running. I even *gasp* cross-trained. Seriously, that was the first time in almost a year. Bill doesn’t think it’s plantars yet, just angry tight feet and legs, but I need to get on it if I don’t want it to get there.

Anyhow, gonna head out and try to do a short run to test the waters before tomorrow’s long run. And it’s misty raining. Great. Happy Friday everyone! And hope you get out there and do something.

 


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Pool running and proof that Jen still runs with me

I’ve had ALOT of friends deal with injuries the last year or so. I honestly think that my semi-regular massage work and my fixation with foam rolling can take a good deal of credit for me being relatively injury-free. That is not to say, though, that I’m not constantly aware of every extra bit of tightness or creakiness. I really like all the “prehab vs. rehab” stuff I’ve been seeing lately. That’s why I found this post about pool running so fascinating. It actually starts with a story about two ultra runners that do a fair bit of pool running as part of their cross-training. Pool running is usually relegated to the domain of those who CAN’T run and are already injured. These folks use it regularly as part of their running/training regimen. I was fascinated. I like the article alot because it provides a variety of ways you can tackle pool running from my version–running back and forth in chest-high water while pushing/pulling my kids (i.e., sneaking in a workout without them knowing) to the more familiar weighted vest/best deeper water to ankle-deep water running. Either way, if you’re in the pool a good amount this summer, there’s some things to try out!

This morning was a 10 mile run with 5×1000’s at 5k pace with recovery in between. Yup, Fun times. In 80-degree weather with alot of humidity. Thankfully Jen had 5×1200’s on her plan with a 2 mile warm up and 1 mile cooldown, so we did most of my 10 miles together. For those uninitiated into the joys of track workouts, most standard tracks are 400 meters and 4 laps are a mile. Usually with intervals, a good recovery is half the distance or half the time of the interval (depending on your goals, etc.). Today’s recovery time for me was supposed to be 50-90% of my interval time. Here’s the splits. My goal 5k time (according to this convertor for my marathon goal time) is 22:22, which translates into a 7:12 time. Based on my over-involved calculations, I think that means I needed to hit a 4:30 for 1000m.

Lap 1   4:29

Lap 2   4:37

Lap 3   4:41

Lap 4   4:41

Lap 5   4:41

Sadly, you can see that I only hit it for the first lap. To my credit, I had a different time in mind based on a different calculator I was looking at before I left the house (ahem, at 5:45 this morning, sigh). But I realized prepping for this post, that I was looking at the wrong thing. I think I could have pushed it a little harder for at least a few more laps if not all of them. I really dislike intervals, but nothing works up a sweat like some nasty fast runs on the track. I’m not a naturally fast (nor inclined towards fast) runner, and I often find them somewhat demoralizing. In some ways, that’s why I like speed/interval workouts based on feel rather than specific times. On Bill’s marathon plan two years ago, his speed workouts were based on just going as hard as you (un)comfortably can. I might go with a combination of time and feel this time around.

Anyhow, here’s a lovely shot of the sun rising behind Jen on the track.

On a side note, we talked about how her form is pretty good. She has a good natural lean forward (something she didn’t know was actually good) and good stride. One thing I’ve noticed is that she tends to shrug her shoulders up a bit, which gives her a cute “little engine that could” look, haha. It doesn’t seem to impact her too much, though. You lose a little bit of energy, but there are worse things (like my swinging arms across my body, ha). 

Anyhow, I forced her to take a selfie with me, so we took turns looking goofy.

It’s going to be a hot one today, so stay cool!

What kind of speed training do you do? How do you mentally work through hitting splits (or not)?

P.S. My husband has been mentioning that he sees a fair amount of “grammer” (sic) mistakes in my writing in these posts. I will need to proof them better! I follow some blogs of former teachers-turned bloggers and when I see typos/grammar stuff/etc it drives me nuts. Feel free to point them out!


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Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

We have a winner for the Dear Kate underwear giveaway! Deanna D! I’ll be contacting you via email soon. Thanks everyone for participating in my first giveaway. I hope to have more in the future.

I did my long run yesterday morning instead of today, because it was easier with the vacation plans. I had 15 on the books, but because of various time issues and straight up tiredness, I ended up only doing 14. My legs have been tired and super tight this week. I need to get on my foam roller some more. I had wanted to do a yoga class Thursday for my cross training/strength day. However, it was also my first day of teaching summer school so the schedule just wouldn’t accommodate an hourlong class. I ended up doing a short Jillian Michaels cardio kickboxing workout instead. Good cardio workout, but hardly great for lengthening and stretching muscles.

I got a chance to try out my compression tights from Ragnar. As a captain, I got  free pair of Pro Compression socks. Since I only own Pro Compression socks, I was pretty excited about getting another pair. I wasn’t in love with the color, as it seems like it would be hot, but they were perfect for the overcast, low 60s morning. I also realized that they are more slimming in a darker color. Haha. Hey, a girl with radish legs has got to do what she can 🙂 I have a pair in white with red and blue trim (like old school traditional knee high socks, that make my calves look like giant tree trunks). I usually wear them under stuff.

I was glad to have some extra support. My right leg is all wonky. The inside of the ankle is tight the first couple of mile, and then I have super tight points in my right foot. I haven’t had plantar fasciitis before, but I might need to do see Dr. Google about it. It makes me nervous, and I’m doing the typical runner thing of treating it by ignoring it.

And because I’m obsessed with form, I went to look at my oldest pair of running shoes to see what was going on. Considering these are Newtons and there’s a pretty visible tread on the heel, I think it confirms that I’m a heel striker. Sigh. However, it indicates some imbalance that there’s a noticeable difference in the wear between left and right. I seem to be striking more on my left side, so I’ve been focusing on trying to do more mid foot on that side.
I also noticed that the tread on the right toe-off section shows more wear on the right side, so I’m not just landing differently, I’m also pushing off differently. (First pic is the right foot and second is left)
I’ve been reading a lot about how imbalances on one side often manifest in injuries on the other side, because you are over-compensating on that side, I’ll have to examine it a bit more. Anyhow, weekend plans call, so I’ll follow up with my results from Dr. Google Monday. Hope everyone has a good run, and a safe holiday weekend. Feel free to chime in with any ideas for diagnoses, experiences, etc.


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Post Ragnar blues and race-photos

It’s always tough the days following up a race. You feel driftless, tired, and a general malaise. You no longer have purpose, you’re still tired and recovering (particularly with a relay series where you get barely 2 hours of sleep), and for those of us with kids, you would willingly get back in the van with the stink and run another 20+ miles to escape the screaming, fighting, and demands for attention. Ha. How else do you think I was able to convince 23 other women to do this?!

One of the things I always detest after races is getting my race photos. Inevitably, they are hideous. i’m always caught mid-step, looking down, looking miserable, looking squashy, what have you. Maybe it’s because I try to be too cool for school and refuse to smile or raise my arms up in victory when I see photographers so they just get my grimace. Anyway, I have resigned myself to never be this guy

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Race photos are usually pretty rough for alot of people, so of course the above photo went viral because it was so ridiculous (hence the meme is called “ridiculously photogenic guy”). I take the photos in stride (haha, get it?!) and usually just see if theres anything I can learn from them regarding form, etc. I was sad to my Ragnar photos from the last leg of the relay. Now, granted, it’s the last leg, and I did an extra leg so I was super-tired. Still, I feel like the photos are fairly awful. I look like I’m totally collapsing inwards on myself.

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I won’t horrify you with the whole series, but I was struck by how bad my form looked. One of the key (and simplest) things to remember about form–beyond cadence, midfoot strike, whatever–is to RUN TALL. I look like I’m trying to conserve my space in the world and running anything but tall. I was also unaware I was collapsing in to my hip so much. Here’s the same photo as the one above with lines to indicate difference in a straight midline and where my hip is. I’m not fancy enough to get a protractor on this photo to measure the degree of change, and I should probably do it again making sure my shirt is straight; however, I’m pretty sure you would agree that the photo indicates I drop my hip.race_888_photo_20140903

Sigh. All these little things build up to create imbalances in the body. I drop my hip because I have weak hips and glues, a common issue for runners. Because of this, my stride is a little different. For example, I’ve noticed that the left heel of my Newton’s show more wear than my right (yes, that means I am heel striking and not mid-foot like I pretend to myself), and I get more tightness in my right hip. You know what this means, right? Ugh, strengthening moves. I did some quick Googling and found some one-legged squats you can do off a stair or box and some side leg lifts. You can also check out this resource for more exercises. You may also recall I posted before about running form. That post had more resources about stride analysis and such.

Just as a point of comparison, I have included another photo from Ragnar. This is Patty from Team 2/Too. She’s awesome, super-supportive and enthusiastic, and qualified for Boston (first time) at Chicago last fall. Look at her form. She looks like she’s got legs of steel; she’s airborne, and she looks strong. She’s my role model… I won’t reveal her age, but she has a kid in college! Seriously amazing.

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Another residual effect of Ragnar has been my extreme tiredness and inability to wake up early to run. That means I am running mid-day in the heat and humidity. Yesterday was actually not crazy hot, but it was extremely humid. I was drenched by the time I was done. You can see my nose wrinkling in disgust, ha. I actually used some Body Glide before the run, which added to my general sliminess. I don’t generally chafe, but in the summer, I tend to get some chafing/irritation on the back of my armpit/shoulder area.

You can also see the awesome runner’s tan I’ve been working on. I am not comparing myself to Kara Goucher in any way, but she did post recently about her runner’s tan pic that went viral. It’s probably the most in common we’ll have 🙂

Anyhow, friends, stay cool and hydrated on your long runs this weekend!


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The nerdier in runNerdier: Being a socially awkward adult and geeky running form stuff

On our run earlier, Jen and I got to talking about how people perceive us. I don’t recall how exactly we got on the topic, but we talked about how oftentimes people read us as aloof, or even as b*tches. I’ve never understood the magic formula that people use to determine whether someone else is shy/awkward or intimidating/aloof. Growing up, I was pretty shy/awkward and generally understood by others as such. At some point in college, that changed. Maybe I seemed more angry and less mousey? Or my hair got shorter and sassier? Or my voice got deeper? I’m not sure what it was exactly, but something changed in the way I got read. I’m not saying that I’d like to be thought of as shy/awkward/mousey instead of as intimidating/aloof/etc., but I feel like I’d get more leeway. People would perhaps judge me less, try harder with me in conversation, have pity on me. In truth, I am still really socially awkward and weird; I just learn to fake it better.

This all came to mind because my kids had a birthday party for a kid in their class. I was a little nervous about going to a classmate’s birthday because I’m not close friends with any of the other parents. I would be…out of my comfort zone. I struggle with small talk, so I just don’t do it. Which, in the small bits of time of pick-up and drop-off, that’s about all there is. Which means I talk very little to the other parents. Like ever. It’s painful. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy being social or talking to other people, I just struggle with that initial surface stuff.

The party ended up being okay. I mostly held someone’s baby the whole time, ha, which Mr. UnRunner pointed out was weird since I couldn’t recall the mother’s name right away. Anyhow, it’s painful for me to force myself to engage with others in a setting where I know very few people well. That’s one of the reasons I can’t stand academic conferences. I’m horrible at the whole networking bit.

Sometimes I think about this during the start of group runs. Some of the women in my group are great at introducing themselves to new runners and making folks feel welcome. I am not one of them. Again, awkward. Silence. Once we start running, I try harder to engage if we’re at the same pace. I think it’s because we don’t have to look at each other. It seems to help. Ha. Anyhow, this is to say that if I ever run with you and act weird, it’s cuz I’m awkward. And you should take pity on me and say hi. And take that same piece of advice for the next time you’re with someone that comes off as standoffish. Go out of your way to be nice. They’re probably just socially awkward. PSA for the day done. I’m also open to suggestions for how to overcome my weirdness. Should I just start wearing a button that says, “I’m awkward, be patient”? Or maybe I should just approach every group run like this?

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Anyhow, this blog is supposed to be about running and not my social quirks…I came across this video from another blog, and like the super-runnerd I am, I watched it AND read quite a bit more about other aspects about form, AND downloaded an app to tape and analyze my running form (I honestly am trying to figure out if I can train my kids to video me so I won’t have to subject anyone else to my craziness).

The video is ALOT about your hip flexibility, and the weird photoshopping stuff they do with the video is a little creepy–like there’s one scene where the guy’s on his stomach and he stretches his leg straight up behind almost perpendicular. I’m pretty sure that’s not physically possible, and there are some other weird moments in the video where you’ll see this. Still, it was fascinating to think about the different angles we create in our form, and how some adjustments could help us create better power to our stride. It also made me work on some pigeon and hip opening this morning!

Finally, THIS article is super-long, but all about feet strength! It goes on at length about how your feet are your foundation and any imbalances, lack of engagement with the medial arch, and other wonky things can throw your whole form off. Compounded over miles, this can cause fatigue at best, injury at worst. Because I’ve been told I have very flexible feet–not a good thing I guess–with weak ankles and flatter arches, this article perked my interest. There are also quite a number of photo examples to show you how even things like your kick-back (the direction/angle of your foot when you kick/stride your leg back) can cause you to over-compensate on one side, impacting your form.

This is what led me to download an app (Coach My Video–I saw some folks use it a running form clinic last year) with the intent of looking at my form more intently. I want to run as strong as possible, and finding the gaps in my running form, I can better sense how to fit my strength training. Or so I tell myself. In case you haven’t realized, I’m a big planner/dreamer. The follow-through sometimes lacks completion. Like I need to get back to that Mountain Athletics app…and read that Racing Weight book. Sigh.

FINALLY, I have a discount code for folks! There’s a new race in Oak Park that I have a $5 off discount code for the first 25 people to register. It’s called the “Run for Diversity 5k/10k” and it benefits the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, which works on issues of racial integration and housing. It’s August 9, 2015. Use Jung2015.

Anyhow, I’d welcome any thoughts you have about running form. Things you think that work or don’t. Whether it’s all over-analysis. And if you have any tricks for becoming more socially less awkward. Happy weekend long runs everyone, and good luck to anyone racing!