Monday, June 28, 2010

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 4

Wow - it's week 4 of marathon training already. Training is a-flying by!

Last Thursday, I attended a running seminar at my favorite local running store - Marathon Sports. I love supporting locally owned/ran stores! I actually met a guy here back when I was training for the '06 marathon and we dated for about a month or so. But that's a story for an Adventures in Awkwardness post on another day...

The seminar was about running form and was put on by Grant Robison - he ran at Stanford and then went on to run the 1500m in the 2004 Olympics. It was pretty cool to be in the presence of an Olympian - and an attractive one at that! ;) He is behind the movement known as "Good Form Running." He suffered from a litany of running injuries in college and while he was a professional runner and really believe it all ties back to the fact that he had poor running form. For those familiar with Chi Running, Good Form Running is similar, but according to Robison, it's a bit easier to apply.

Everyone, from a novice runner to a professional athlete, can benefit from improving their form. Here are the 4 principles of Good Running Form that he went over:

1. Posture - Now, this is important in life in general. I must say my posture is pretty darn terrible. I try to work on it, but it definitely doesn't come 'natural' to me just yet. Robison basically said that we need a strong core to support good posture - otherwise, when the body gets tired during long runs, your hips will sort of turn forward, putting pressure on your lower back which is not good for you. His tip was to work on 're-setting' your posture. To do this, stand up (come on, get out of your chair for a bit and give this a shot) - now reach your fingertips towards the ceiling, hold them there for a couple of seconds, and let your arms drop. Your bodily is now properly aligned. We should all strive to have proper body alignment at all times. He said to do this 're-set' exercise throughout the day, day after day, until it becomes natural for your body to be in alignment.

2. Midfoot - When you stride during your run, try to land on the middle of your foot - not your heel as is very common. I am not going to go into a long explanation on this, but basically landing on your heel is uber hard on your body. It also means your leg is probably extending out which locks your knee and puts pressure on your knee - likely causing an injury over time. Want a simple experiment that shows you this? Try jumping and landing with your knees slightly bent. Now try jumping and landing with your knee locked. See the difference? So how do you land on your midfoot? You need to shorten your stride, which ties into principle #3.

3. Cadence - What is cadence, you might ask? It's the number of times your right and left foot strike the ground in a minute. The easiest way to count your cadence is to count the number of times your right or left foot strikes the ground in 30 seconds and multiply that number by 4. According to the folks at Good Running Form, the ideal cadence is 180. At the workshop, Robison had us march in place to the beat of a metronome set to 180. Then he slowed it down to 150. It demonstrated that running at a faster cadence forces you to take smaller strides and be a little bit more light on your feet. All along, I have been thinking I needed to lengthen my stride, but according to their research, it's all about lighter, faster, more frequent strides.

4. Lean - The last principle is the lean. This is probably the toughest of the 4 principles - at least for me - and something I am not quite ready to try to incorporate into my form. By lean, they mean leaning from the ankles. Leaning from the waist is not going to help you as it throws your alignment out of whack (see principle #1).

So there you have it. I know this is probably a little bit more technical and I have probably bored some of your to tears (or lost you after the first paragraph)!! But if you run - whether it's 1 mile or 26.2, these are important things to work on so you stay injury free! Robison suggested focusing on 1 of the 4 principles to start and to not 'over think' it. A slight adjustment could make a world of difference for you/your body.

I'll be attending another workshop on July 8th where they will actually video me while I am running to help make me more aware of my form and how it can be improved. These workshops are all free, which is pretty cool!

I'll be away at the cabin next Monday, so will be taking week 5 off from Marathon Madness Monday. I promise my next post will be less technical! I hope this was helpful for the runners out there, though!

*************
Training Tally:
Miles ran last week: 22
Training-to-date mileage: 71

18 comments:

Charbelle said...

wow I can't believe you're in week 4 already!! This was super helpful, thank you!!

Abby said...

Very helpful post, Lisa! That's neat that you have access to these running workshops and that they are free!!! Very interesting!

I can't believe you've already reached week 4! Crazy!

Emily Jane said...

As if it's already week 4, that's gone by quickly!! Great tips - I struggle with posture too but being aware of it is a big step to getting better. :)

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

I try to strike mid-foot but it is SO hard for me because I have very high arches. It's like trying to land on nothing! Oddly, I tend to strike with the forefoot...on one single metatarsal/phalanx joint. Basically I land on my big toe. Weird.

Ashley Gerner said...

Thanks for sharing Lisa, this was really interesting! I look forward to getting back into running after the baby and I KNOW my form is something I need to focus on more!
Keep up the great work with your training!!

Becky said...

Definitely interesting! Week 4 already - wow! October's gonna be here before you know it!

Nora said...

Congrats on making it to week four! You're a running rockstar; the seminar definitely sounds intriguing. If/when I can run again I'll try to take some of this into account!

abbi said...

This is interesting and great that you have access to those types of seminars. I went to a store this weekend that really emphasizes 'natural' and 'chi' running but have yet to come to any conclusions on any of it yet!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Oh I LOVED this!!

I really need to work on my core. I know this because sometimes after a long run my lower back HURTS. So I know that when I get tired I do exactly what you said in #1. I have been trying to do core work after foam rolling every day but for the most part I've been lazy with it. I need to recommit to 10 minutes of core a day! Because really, what is 10 minutes.

I'm excited to hear how your next workshop goes!

Megan said...

I'll admit I didn't read every sentence BUT I did 're-set' my alignment! :) I feel like I have better posture already.

Sassy Molassy said...

That seminar sounds really cool. Our speed coach does talk to us about form and we do some drills at the beginning to get us thinking about how our stride should be, but I like this list of 1.2.3.4. things to really focus on. Not always easy to do when you can't see what you're doing, but I do think the midfoot strike is sooo important. For a long time we were all told to strike heel to toe when in fact, it's bad for your joints! Crazy stuff.

J said...

The lean is the hardest thing for me too. My track coach used to say that it basically a natural instinct and some people just don't have it. He would never tell me if I did it right lol!

Kelly said...

Very interesting post. I read Chi Running but it's hard to apply everything so I like this simplified version, especially anything that can take pressure off my knees because clearly that is a problem for me- though I actually don't think I do land on my heel but I'll have to pay more attention.
Congrats on making it to Week 4 of marathon training!

Kyla Roma said...

This is all such good information!! Lisa!! Love this! :)

I've actually been thinking about my cadence and wondering if I need to take longer strides, and this will answer my question- thank you!

Leigh said...

Great tips for running....now to find the motivation and time to get out there and do it! Haha.

"E" said...

I loved these tips! And I love all you write about running! It's very inspiring to a person who is just getting into the whole running scene! Keep up the great work!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see toe runners ... people who run like they're ballerinas and land on their toes. That can't be good, either!

Also, did they talk about all (maybe within the idea of posture) about relaxed shoulders, forearms parallel to the ground and relaxed fists (unclenched)? My coaches always reminded us of those principles, so we didn't tense up during our longer runs.

Nicole said...

Oh my gosh, I am so far behind! It sounds like this was a very informational seminar! I've been trying to practice my posture in my runs for the last few weeks. Another suggestion I read (I'm sure it was in Runner's World or on a website) is to purposely run hunched over and then push your hips forward as you run until you are vertical. (I have a problem leaning forward when I run.) Not sure if it's made a difference, but I am trying!