Stillness in the middle of great speed

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After five years, countless miles, and five half marathons, I finally REALLY ran.

When I “learned” to run five years ago, I was overweight and out of shape. My running form was dictated by the limitations of my body. But even after my body reformed, my running style did not.

All I can say is thank you for the falls directly on the kneecap that forced me to learn to run all over again. Now that my heart, lungs and limbs are stronger, I can use this comeback time to develop a running form that is more balanced and less taxing on my body.

I’ve spent hours reading, studying and watching running videos. All are helpful, but watching great runners run seems to lock proper form into my body in a way that nothing else does.

I have also learned that running is cumulative. Even the smallest inefficient movement repeated stride after stride takes its toll. A meager four inches of head dip will add 3.3 miles to a 26.2-mile distance.

On average, we take 2,000 strides per mile…2,000! That gives us 2,000 chances in a one-mile run to hurt a joint or muscle by repeating inefficient or harmful form mistakes. With odds like that, we must strive for the best form possible.

I really believe that starting my running “streak” is going to be the best thing for my running! Day after day of low mileage leaves room for experimentation and reinvention.

It was the experiment of cadence increase (upping my number of strides per minute) that finally got me running. Running at 174 strides per minute, my most persistent form errors fell away, my legs felt light, touch down seemed less jarring, I actually had a toe-off, and I even felt the recoil of connective tissue that kick-starts your next stride. With an increase in speed, my body had to move more efficiently to keep up with the metronome’s beat.

To help find your best cadence, you can run with a metronome or download a metronome app onto your phone. Once you find your perfect tempo, you may shop for music by “beats per minute.” Granted, some of these workout-inspiring songs sound rave-worthy (not my favorite), but I suppose it is better than listening to a lone metronome beep for miles on end.

Experts suggest 170 to 190 strides per minute for optimal running. To be honest, 174 left me winded after a short distance, but training will fix that. Being a bit out of breath will be well worth the sensation of running. I felt like a speedboat.

Speedboats are so inefficient when moving slowly, their bows push against the wind and their back ends swamp. But when a speedboat is given the gas, they plane off, their slimmest lines into the wind. They become still in all directions but forward. That is how I felt running…stillness in the middle of great speed.

 

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