form focus (3 of 6)

Monday: Hip hop boot camp class

Tuesday: Stretching & foam rolling & massaging with Penetrex

After my long run on Saturday, I did a bad thing. I was late to an appointment, hopped in the shower and left the house. Which means (head hung in running shame): I didn’t stretch a lick. I felt okay on Sunday playing kickball, and I was kind of smug. I must be in great running shape! But I didn’t run on Sunday — except around the bases — and then I woke up on Monday, and it was like, OH. There are my legs. 

I felt a lot of tightness in my ankles and hips and IT band. I stretched and went to boot camp, but I woke today feeling kind of … worried. I want to be running today & training for my upcoming half marathon, but I’m such a rookie. And I’m worried about over training and fatiguing my legs. SO. I’m not running today. I’m using Penetrex (kind of like Icy Hot) and foam rolling (for the first time all week) … Why do I forget to make foam rolling a priority? Because it hurts like hell. But I know it’s good for me. I should bring it to work with me and set an alarm and roll during the day. (That wouldn’t be weird at all, right?)

Okay, enough of my whining about soreness. Let’s get back to form!

To catch you up to speed, here’s what we’ve covered so far:

  1. form focus one > posture
  2. form focus two > the lean

Today I’m covering lower body focuses. Specifically, how to move fluidly without over-taxing your leg muscles.

Chi Marathon says you want a passive leg swing. That means:

  • Your legs are used for support, but not propulsion (your lean propels you instead).
  • Your legs are relaxed. (I’ve gotten in the habit of shaking out leg tension when I’m waiting at the crosswalk.)
  • Your knees are low (reserve high knees for sprinting, not distance running). You knees bend and float behind you after each stride; they don’t lift. (I’m still working on this float concept.)

Wait, there’s more. And these ones are pretty challenging for me:

  • Your feet should be pointed forward. (I’ve been working on this one for a long time, even before I knew much about running form, because I knew it didn’t feel good when my left foot splayed out. I still have to keep my eye on lefty.)
  • Your feet movement should resemble wheels, not pendulums. Chi Marathon says to think circles with your feet. If you peel your foot off the ground correctly and let it float behind you, you’ll have the circle shape. (Since I have trouble with the float, I think my feet don’t raise behind me enough — and I’m doing more of the swinging pendulum thing. BUT. I won’t really know until I can get someone to videotape me. Yes, I’m going to take videos of my running form. It’s getting serious around here.)
  • And, finally, though I’ve mentioned it before: a midfoot strike. Stop striking with your heels, people!

Tell me: Do these lower leg focuses come naturally to you? If you’ve got the wheel-style foot movement down, how do you do it without expending too much energy?

I don’t have any running photos today, but I do have this, er, exciting photo of me in a work outfit (taken in front of my entry area, of course):

work outfit

The shorts are new and from H&M. Everything else is old, old, old.

I’m not super obsessed with clothes. Except for my workout clothes, which are *very* fashion-forward. ;) (More like very neon.) But I do try to put myself together every now and then. So, what do you think of the look above? Leggings with shorts? Too I’m-trying-to-look-younger-than-my-own-good-and-cutesy? Or actually cute?


300 meter benchmark

Sunday’s workout: fast (for me?) sets of 300 meters + kickball

Today began with an epic (uh huh) kickball game. We won 10-5, and I caught five or six fly balls and got player of the game! Thanks, kickball friends. :) I’m lucky to be on a really cool team. We keep getting better and better, and everyone is super encouraging. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.


Our team name: Schweddy Balls

I felt a little guilty that I didn’t go for team beers after the game, but I wanted to get my track workout over and done with while it was still sunny.

I’d set up a workout on Garmin Connect and sent it to my Forerunner. Stupidly, I didn’t check how Forerunner would handle the workout … I started it successfully (one mile warmup) and then the watch started beeping at me — and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I hit the wrong button, apparently, and it gave me a lap error message (over and over and over) and wouldn’t stop beeping. Damn, Garmin. Learning curve.

So instead of messing with the pre-designed workout, I just put the watch in normal training mode and did my thing:

  • one mile warmup
  • 300 meters x 8 times, walking the 100 meters in between each
  • one mile cool down

I’d planned to do the 300 repeats 12 times, but I felt awfully spent after 8.

And, like most speed workouts, I have no idea how fast (based upon my race goal pace) I should run these things, but at least now I’ve got a benchmark.

I ran the first 300 in 1:03 and each one after in 1:06 or 1:07. I’m actually really, really surprised that I was that consistent.

By the way, did you know that Michael Johnson can run 300 meters in 30.85 seconds?


While I was marveling at MJ’s time, I went and did some Googling until I found this kickass running calculator. Well, Greg McMillan, you rock. And you’ve answered several of my burning questions about pacing.

If I’m running 300 meters in 1:03-1:07 and running 400 meters in 1:20, then I should be able to get to a sub-8:00 race pace at some point. That’s my ultimate goal; for now, I just want to get to sub-8:30. (I love how the running calculator gives target paces for every type of training run. That is so rad.)

I learned from last week’s speed workout and didn’t push it too hard today. I feel good, but I’m still icing for prevention.

ice packs

Like the neon socks? If it's got neon colors, I'm likely putting it in my shopping cart.