This week Coach Jean, certified in Chi Running Instruction, will be holding a mini-camp for the Dreamfar Triathlon Team right after the cycle. Your running form (along with your training approach and fundamental physiological mechanics) dictates not only your ability to be a consistent runner (i.e. not injured) but also can help your performance. For us mortals that is more important than for the elite field of say The Boston Marathon. If you've ever watched the elite athletes run you'll notice 1) those people do not know how to run (Alberto Salazar is wanted by the FBI for crimes against running form) and 2) there is something "natural" about their mechanics. We can learn something from them but for the purposes of this lesson let's focus on their natural mechanics. Now there are two things which are almost impossible to do in sports, one is getting a triathlon team to agree on a uniform and the other is changing the running mechanics of a runner. Of our three sports we can modify your bike cadence and change your swimming stroke completely. But running is a normal human movement meaning that since you were able to walk you've been able to run and that through millennia of evolution and/or God's whim you run how you do now.
Now returning to elite level athletes you can see the efficiency of their mechanics as they crank out 5 minute miles for 26 miles. Helping you do likewise is pretty damn hard which is why people with an infinite amount of both patience and knowledge like Coach Jean can help you through the approach championed by Chi Running. So let's look at the basics of what she will be working you with. Now inhale, find a peaceful spot where the suns natural rays are coming in and turn off your iPhone: Exhale, inhale, exhale...
1, For God's Sake Sit Upright - We all look like we've been smacked across the back of the head just before we run. We're bent over, we're slumped, we look like we're about to fall over (more about that in a minute), and it looks like we're trying to tuck our heads into our underarms. And as we get older it gets worse. Now that is natural as us older runners were meant to be yummy bits of fleshy protein for faster animals on the savannah. But there's no excuse for you youngins. Straighten your head and shoulders and your midsection will follow which will naturally align your back and lighten the load on the legs. If you run tall and straighten you'll be more efficient and les prone to injury. Editor's Note: At mile 20 you're going to look like hammered shit unless your endurance training was really up there. If not then trying to tuck your head into your belly button is as good an approach any other.
2. Lean Forward - There is a difference between falling forward and leaning forward. Back in the day the word was to use gravity as if you're falling forward which led to a great deal of sports doctors buying a great deal of new boats and condos. Lean from your lower legs not your torso which will make the lean ever so subtle and maintain your posture still upward. Coach Jean will show you more but this section is a good one for reminding you not to fall forward as an approach for running.
3. Land with your feet under you - Duh. But many people will run hitting rear foot and trying to roll or at the forefoot and doing a complete roll. Let's look at the people who recently won that rain soaked insanity that was the Boston Marathon. They literally spend 75% of the time in the air - that's right their feet are barely touching asphalt. But when foot hits ground its at the mid foot assuring they are upright and well aligned. Their foot is landing underneath them not in front of them. And if you think, "Well who lands their foot ahead of them!?", Have someone video you after 10 miles and you'll see that you're trying to have your legs reach the finish before you do.
4. Strengthen and Use Your Belly - yes, those infomercials are correct: if you fix your core then you'll meet 75% more women. And also reduce sports injury. While you're running every now and then tighten your tummy and it'll remind you to keep upright and align your legs and body properly. Don't run with your hips (leave them at home) instead run with your core muscles as a focus and your legs and buttocks will align and you'll feel like your whole body is moving together.
5. Calm Down: Yes You're Going to Die - When the running hits the crapper and you feel like its you that should be flushed down just take a second to exhale and say, "What the fuck. It's just running." when fatigue sets in your body is going to tighten up and I'd love to go into all the physiological reasons why you really are hammered shit but the best thing you can do is relax and allow your form to adjust. Unless you're one of this people putting in 130 miles a week you're going to get tired by mile 21. Ain't nothing going to help even if you have a ninth degree black belt in Chi Running but the foundations of Chi Running can help by focusing on form and mindset. So relax, yes you're going to die.But you have to look good for your marathon picture and you know those dummies are always waiting at the one place where you'd rather puke.
So now you're ready for Coach Jean's much more intelligent and peaceful mini-camp on Chi Running. And remember what Neo said, "There is no spoon" and what Coach Vic always says, "How you gonna eat that without a spoon."