form focus (2 of 6)

I’ve been busy and have fallen behind here. Let’s catch up on runs and then hop to the next form focus.

Monday (of last week): 25 min fast run (in Chicago)

Tuesday: 5.6 mile tempo run (back in Portland)

Wednesday: Physique 57 (30 minutes)

Thursday: speed work (warmup, 4 x 400s, cool down)

Friday: rest day

Saturday: 10 mile long run

Sunday: kickball (so, er, a rest day)

Some thoughts on the week’s runs:

  • The good: I did my long run without too much soreness (a little bit of hip pain at the end) and not a lot of boredom (I wondered if I’d be over it at any point). And I pushed myself a lot in the tempo run on Tuesday — huffing and puffing, but still moving more or less as quickly as I could.
  • The bad: My pace for the tempo run was a lot slower than I wanted it to be. I can’t figure out if I’ve sort of hit a plateau for the moment or if my legs are fatigued or what.

Want to see a before & after from my long run (pardon yet another photo of me in my entryway)?

before and after

Ok, this wasn’t exactly *after* the run, but after a shower and a cute outfit. :)

So, let’s talk form. (As a reminder, I’m sharing form focuses covered in Chi Marathon and adding a bit about my own running habits.)

In the first post, I wrote about posture. And I suppose you’re thinking that running with good posture is a given. But, have you checked out joggers on the street lately? There’s a lot of shoulders-up-to-the-ears and butts-popped-out and duck feet going on.

Today’s focus goes hand-in-hand with posture: it’s the lean.

Here’s how Chi Marathon explains it:

A slight forward lean from your ankles is enough to allow gravity to assist you in falling forward. As your column falls forward, it passes over the foot that’s on the ground. The oncoming force of the road sweeps your support leg out behind you, allowing your leading foot to land beneath your center of mass, in a midfoot strike. This leg then momentarily supports your weight as your column passes over it and the whole cycle happens again. If you’re running at a 180 spm cadence, the cycle happens three times every second.

And here’s how I’m focusing while I run:

  1. Leaning forward with my whole body (not just bending at the waist)
  2. Striking with my midfoot (goodbye, heel strike)
  3. Keeping my feet beneath me (not over-extending way out in front of my body)

The lean is also supported by your arm swing. Did you know you’re supposed to swing your arms to the rear as you fall forward?

And, finally, relax your lower legs, feet and ankles. Again, this sounds kind of obvious, but I realized that I used to run with a lot of tension in my feet. Sort of like bracing myself for each stride, versus just letting myself lean into the stride and letting my feet float beneath me. (Float is a stretch, but you see what I mean.)

Without a doubt, of all form changes I’ve made, the lean is making the biggest difference. Midfoot striking is helping to minimize my IT tightness, and the lean really helps to conserve energy (letting gravity do some of the work for me). I can’t tell you how much energy I used to waste when I ran upright and nearly hopped straight up and down. Now the movement is all about going forward and relaxing. It feels gooood.

Tell me: What’s your foot strike? Have you tried leaning into your run? How do you relax while running?

Up next: lower body focuses

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jelly legs

Woah, nelly. Did I expect my legs to be so sore after Sunday’s track workout? I did not. It was a combined 4.5 miles, but it felt like so much more the next day. Is that a good sign? I’d like to think I was lifting my knees and doing a quicker turnover, and that’s why I was sore. Right? …

Monday’s workout: nada

I had plans with friends after work so I knew I’d have to do a workout in the morning, if at all, and I didn’t really plan for it. So, hello lazy day (and wine).

Tuesday’s workout: an hour of Physique 57

I bought the 30-min and one-hour DVD online (on sale) a couple months ago, and I do the workouts in my living room about once a week (looking a fool), whenever I’m not feeling like the gym — or when it seems too ugly out for a run. I can’t exactly say I love this workout, but I keep coming back to it. I do like how my thighs burn, and some of the ab work feels like it’s whittling my waist. I can’t say that I notice a huge difference, though, and I don’t really break a sweat. (How come I don’t look like the super toned ladies in their testimonials?!) So … I’m perhaps not pushing myself hard enough, or maybe I just need to accept that it’s for muscle burn and not geared toward cardio.

Guess what arrived in the mail today?

Go ahead & tell me my hair looks really long. I will thank you profusely.

ShowerPill wipes that I ordered online … and Stevia packets from my mom! It’s the little things, friends.

ShowerPills are great for when you’ve worked out and aren’t showering straight after (on a race day, or when you go jogging and then meet friends for drinks … cough, cough). And Stevia is how I’ve broken my Splenda addiction. And, even then, I don’t use Stevia that often anymore either. (It’s major progress from my 5-7 Splendas per day obsession of a few years ago. I read too many articles that scared me off of it for good.)

The verdict on this week’s workouts so far? Too easy. And a little dull. I’m going to try to kick it up a notch tomorrow.

How’s your week going?