Showing posts with label efficiency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label efficiency. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Running efficiently is naturally wrong

Does form follow function?
Today's run (street): 3.25 miles

Remember when you were young and your parents taught you how to run? Of course not. Kids learn to run naturally through a combination of confidence, impatience and excitement. I was thinking about this on my run this morning, as I put attention to where my feet were falling and the length of my stride. It occurred to me that all the books, magazines and web articles I've read about improving running technique are only corrupting what we comfortably do by nature.

I realize that this is a provocative statement. Landing on your fore foot and shortening your stride will make you a faster and more efficient runner, right? I'm not sure. I've observed enough runners to confidently say that the way you look while running is not a true indicator of how well you can actually run. I remember running on the Bethpage trail and seeing a woman ahead of me who was pronating so badly that it was making me dizzy. I increased my pace to pass her, until I realized I'd never catch her. Inefficient as she looked, she totally outclassed me in terms of speed.

I haven't given up on improving the way I run, but I'm no longer willing to fight nature to do it. I've been running in minimal shoes for three years to promote mid-foot landing, but all my running shoes still show wear on the lateral heel, along with the mid-foot. I'm okay with that because (knock wood) I've had very few running injuries during the same time period. I'll still think about the position of my arms and height of my knees when it crosses my mind during a run. The fact is, whether I do everything "right" or go with what feels natural, I tend to run just about the same.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hitting my stride again

Today's run (street): 2.3 miles at 9:19

I'm not sure why the feel of today's run was different from yesterday's but I had a far better experience this morning. Things didn't start too promising. I awoke with a sinus headache and felt sluggish. With that, I prepared for a slog of a run but was pleasantly surprised when I hit the street and felt balanced and strong. It was cooler than yesterday but only by a degree or two. Yesterday's issues with stride efficiency were gone and I was able to focus on moving along rather than thinking about the mechanics of my gait. I slightly altered my route which helps keep it interesting and when I hit my first mile it seemed to come quick. Compared to yesterday, it did, which pleased me further.

I spend some time yesterday with my friend CMc. He's one of my "Running Gods" who has many years and many marathons behind him. I'm usually the student but got a chance to be the teacher as we headed to Union Square at mid-day for lunch at Republic followed by a walk over to Jackrabbit. CMc is in the market for a new pair of trail shoes so we looked at what was on display. I had a great time explaining the differences between the models (including non-trail shoes). I may not be an accomplished runner like my friend but I do know a fair amount about the models and their various technologies. Perhaps when I know less about the shoes and gear it will be signal that I'm a more serious runner!

Tomorrow is supposed to be a scorcher -- 97 degrees with high humidity by noon. I'm going to need to get out early for my long run. With any luck, weather conditions will be similar to today's.

Friday, September 18, 2009

From bedroom to street in 28 simple steps

Last night, as I was preparing my gear for this morning's run, I realized just how much I need to do just to get out the door. I've often wondered why, when I arise at 3:50, that I'm not on the road until 4:08. Thinking through all the individual steps I'm not surprised that it takes so long.

Consider this routine:

1. Head downstairs
2. Start coffee machine (set up done the night before)
3. Turn on cell phone and place in arm band
4. Take vitamin
5. Pour coffee
6. Grab energy bar
7. Head back upstairs
8. Change out of sleeping attire, put on:
9. Supporter
10. Running shorts
11. HRM
12. Compression t-shirt (it was chilly this morning)
13. Running jersey
14. Reflective vest
15. Running socks
16. Running shoes
17. Flashing tail light
18. Running hat
19. Head lamp
20. Garmin 50 watch
21. Arm band
22. Consume 1/3 of energy bar
23. Drink 1/3 cup of coffee
24. Head back downstairs
25. Step outside
26. Do quick set of flexibility stretches
27. Prepare and start Garmin
28. Hit the road

It's no wonder that my running time is barely longer than my prep time. This morning I covered 2.6 miles in 23:04, a mere eight minutes longer than the time I took to get ready. If not for all the work I do the night before to set out my clothes and gear that gap would be even closer. I'd like to run longer distances in the mornings but I'm not sure how to gain more efficiencies. Perhaps if I put all my gear downstairs I can save a minute or two by changing into running clothes while my coffee brews. Or I could sleep in my running clothes and forgo my coffee until I come back from my run. Alternatively, I could become a 7:00/mile runner and cover about 5K every morning in the same period of time. I'm all for aspirational pace goals but I think I'm just going to have to adjust to running without a caffeine boost if I want to get more time in the morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Does form follow function?

Last night, on my way down to Penn Station, I observed a runner making his way through the crowded mid-town streets. I wondered, with all the great places to run in NYC, why he picked Time Square at rush hour. What I noticed about this runner was how inefficient he looked as he ran. His stride reminded me of Elaine's dancing on Seinfeld with both feet splaying left and right and his elbows were swinging like a race walker. It made me wonder whether this was an extreme example of pronation or supination or just poor technique.

I began thinking about my own form and as I came into Penn I began watching my feet to see if they did anything strange when I walked. They looked fairly straight and I questioned whether that was due to my conscious observation. Walking with my head down was not smart because I almost ran into some people so I stopped the experiment without reaching a conclusion. I tried to look again during this morning's 4:00 AM run but quickly (and smartly) chose keep my eyes focused on the road.

There are a number of running stores in NYC that have treadmills and video cameras that allow sales people to capture a person's stride so they can recommend a specific shoe or shoe type. A ten second walk across the floor was all the analysis done to put me in my Brooks so I really don't know if I'm an efficient runner. I'm thinking about my next pair and whether I want to price shop for what I think I want or if it's worth paying more to find out what I really need.

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