Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Quickness

In my race report from this past weekend, I referred to an "aha" moment with my running and said I would further elaborate. 

My undergraduate years in college touched a little bit on biomechanics, how force plates work, knowledge of the skill, execution and follow through.  Just like anything there are always two sides to an argument, biomechanics is no different.  Their watercooler banter topic is "do you have to do the skill at least 10,000 times or can you be gifted to be an expert?"

I fall somewhere in the middle, while being naturally gifted is almost a necessity at the international/world class level, there is something to be said for repetition and muscle memory.  Although, undoubtedly one of the best to ever ride a bicycle, I am certain Lance Armstrong did not just get on and start climbing hills.  He had to practice!

Anyway, my problem with short distance as stated before is no speed, no power, no "get up and go!"  In high school I broke the school record for steals (of course, someone else has now broken that record) in basketball.  Everybody said it was because I was quick.  The truth is, I don't think I was.  I could see the floor and read the offensive players.  I knew where the ball was going.  Girls were not as good back then and they projected their passes.  It made it much easier to steal the ball if you knew who it was going to.  Of course, in running a 5k or 5-miler knowing who is going to be where does me no good. 

Last week I went for a nice easy 10 miler.  I did 7.5 solo and then picked up "The Bails" for the last 2.5.  Now during these last 2.5 I realized when I run a "comfortable" pace my stride seems fairly short, but the harder I run the more I dig for ground and try to force myself forward.  I spend more time in the air and although my stride length increases, it does not compensate for the loss in regards to my stride frequency.  I decided to literally smash my feet into the ground, and try a few pick-ups. I focused on moving my feet quicker and It worked!  I wasn't out of breath and was running a sub-7:00/mile.  Maybe, I was on to something, so I did it again.  It felt awkward and although my breathing was labored, I wasn't dying!  I was dead set on trying my new strategy in the race on Saturday now.

I did just that in the race and although it did feel really unnatural to "force" my feet down and onto the ground, it did keep me from reaching and overstriding.  I am not sure how different it makes my running look, but it sure as hell feels weird.  Anyway, gave it another shot the other day running up a small incline and although the Garmin is not 100% reliable as it said I was able to get up to a 4:18/mile, I know for a fact I was moving the fastest I have ever moved in my life before.  The mailboxes and the pavement were going by me like I was on a bicycle!  I felt awesome, tingling all over.  It was like I was electrified with speed.  Then two seconds later, the quickness was gone and  I had to slow down and get some air :)

And totally off subject but if you want to see one of my new favorite and totally inspiring signs go here and leave your thoughts about DNFing too!


TriEric said...

I have changed my running stride over the past couple years to be more mid-foot strike and quicker turnover. I agree that it helps all the way around. Watch the pros. High turnover.

DaisyDuc said...

Glad it is working for you! I haven't really given my stride much thought for awhile and will need to think about it!

BTW, I did not know you got picked up by SBR until I was reading through posts today! CONGRATS!