Friday, May 27, 2011

Tempting fate

I saw Kylee at the Y today. She gave me a big hug and I asked her - again - to throw away her voodoo doll of me. Please no stress fracture! Please no stress fracture!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's so simple (slightly off topic)

There's no great secret to losing weight. Anyone can tell you that you need to consume fewer calories than you expend. The easiest way to do so is to eat less and exercise more. Beyond that, however, I never really understood why both components are needed. During the 30-day challenge I finally understood it, at least in terms I could understand.

I was eating pretty much anything I could find, so long as it came from the grocery store and not from a restaurant. It should be no surprise that I gained a little weight. Yet my clothing simultaneously fit better and looked better from the exercising every day. I finally realized the magic secret - the amount of food determines how big my body is, and the amount of exercise determines how muscular or shapeless that body looks. It's so simple!

As further validation of my "discovery," I found a story published by Time called "Why Exercise won't make you Thin." Their reasoning is more scientific than mine, but essentially all the same.

This is further proof of why all women need to be lifting weights. Not only does it lift and tone what we want lifted and toned, it makes the body smaller, even without any weight loss; burns more calories, even when at rest; and helps prevent osteoporosis and other old lady diseases. If you can carry in a bag of groceries, you can lift weights!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good form technique #4

Good form running technique 4 is to lean from the ankles, maintaining a straight body line. This is the component I understand the least and therefore have the most problem implementing. If I lean forward, I feel like I'm going to fall on my face. I understand it supports the good posture idea, and that bending at the waist or the shoulders would ruin the posture, but I'm struggling with this one.

The good news is that Jared suggested implementing one component at a time. I already have the cadence under control (#3). Mid foot striking (#2) follows as a result of the cadence. I continually work on maintaining good posture (#1), so I have three of the ideas already implemented or in progress. #4 will be on the long term agenda :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Good form technique #3

Technique 3 initially seemed the most difficult to implement: run at a cadence of 180 steps per minute. This seemed incredibly fast, and also difficult. How can I count three steps a second, while keeping track of laps, and singing along? Jared had us practice to a metronome, but I don't imagine the Y folks would appreciate hearing that for my entire workout. He mentioned something even better, a free mp3 of a 180 bpm metronome. I inserted it into the ultimate 4-hour cardio playmix alternating metronome, song, metronome, song. Jared mentioned that in focusing on the cadence, don't think about your feet so much. Rather, focus on your arms, extending or retracting on every beat. Control the arms and the feet will follow.

I was skeptical, but I tried it, and it was really easy. It tied together the midfoot stride as well, because it's really hard to over-extend when taking so many steps. Another bonus was that it removed any idea of thought. I didn't even have music to think about, just beat-beat-beat, which translated to right-left-right-left. Sticking to 180bpm, my time / pace were right about what they always were.

Yesterday, I tried something different. Rather than listening to the metronome, I just ran, not counting or over thinking, just moving my arms as fast as I could. The result: a 43-second lap, followed by two 45s. When left to my own devices, I struggle to finish in 60 seconds. The way to quicker running, I finally learned, is MORE steps, not longer strides. It's so simple!

The fast bpm doesn't feel like work, the way bad form running used to. Does my body complain? yup. Do I get winded? absolutely. Yet, it feels natural and I'm definitely stepping and landing lighter than ever before.

For the walkers, cadence is the only difference between good form running and good form walking. Rather than shooting for 180, walkers should be in the 140-160 range (or whatever is most comfortable for you).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Good form technique #2

Step two of good form running is to hit the ground with the entire foot, to spread out the shock absorption, without causing braking and torquing (heel landing) or calf and Achilles strain (toe landing). Jared's hint for getting used to this is to march in place, to train the foot how it should feel upon landing.

Theoretically, this isn't the easiest one to implement, but it ties in nicely with technique #3. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Good form technique #1

The first component of good form running is good posture. Jared went through all the mechanics, but here's the gist of it: Stand with your feet directly under your hips, with your knees neutral (ie not hyperextended). Look straight ahead and raise your arms straight above your head. He called this a "posture reset." Relax your arms to your sides, without moving any other part of your body. You have just established a good posture. Simple as that.

The first time I tried running with the good form techniques, also the first time I tried running after getting dr. clearance, I ran .1 or .2 miles then walked .2 miles. Every time I changed to walking, I did a posture reset. Even when I'm at work or walking around the house, if I catch myself with bad posture, I stop, reach toward the sky and fix it.

Step one: good posture. Simple, effective.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bad form running

Last week I attended the good form running class at the New Balance store in Farmington Hills. Jared videotaped each of us running, then we watched the video frame by frame, noting what we were doing wrong, in my case, plenty! Yet the other participants were all making the same form errors. There was some comfort in not being the only one :)

To demonstrate what I was doing wrong, let's revisit the photo the Free Press published of me. Granted, this was at 26.1 miles so any idea of form was long gone!

Mistake one: I'm looking down. Good form running features good posture with an upheld head.

Mistake two: My arm is crossed way across my body, almost hitting my sternum. Good form running says I should move my arms directly front and back. Crossing sideways wastes energy and causes my upper body to twist and rotate, leading to a full body wiggle.

Mistake three: Look at how high my toe is cranked up in the air! Good form running features landing on the midfoot. Landing on the heel causes a braking effect, leading to stop and go motions, and extra torque and force on the knees.

This is the frst picture I've ever seen of myself running and the mistakes are many and obvious, but the fixes are equally many and obvious, and the best part - easily implanted!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I'm still here!

I have several posts forthcoming. I haven't abandoned all four of my readers during this running hiatus!!! Soon, I promise!!!