Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mechanics of Running....

Yep, I must have some time on my hands if I am about to give you some tips on running mechanics.

To date I have run 3 marathons. I think it is funny that I ran my best time in my first (OKC Memorial), and I am certain I could have done better. I held back because I didn't know, the unknown made me err on the side of caution. I thought it was too good to be true, that I would certainly die...but mile 13.1 came and I hit a sub 2hour half (only my second sub two out of about 10 previous halves), I felt great. Mile 16 came and I was smiling and still holding back. Mile 20 more the same...Mile 21, 22 I was getting worried about how great I felt. Mile 23 was the roughest but still, I did not die. I climbed a wall but didn't die.

I say all this because I was looking at plans for my fall marathon. I found plans with crazy running, tempos, pace, speed. I did all that, sure. But what stands out most was the simplicity of the plan I used for my first marathon: Hal Higond's Novice 1 plan. I know, I said I wanted to try something new And I still do BUT tick tock, time is passing and I am 15 weeks out from OBX. I need a plan and I need it fast. So I have printed off Hal's Novice 2 plan. It's still simple and has 4 runs a week with a Wed mid-distance run topping out at 8 miles, and it has pace runs thrown in. I think I can handle getting up early three days a week and heading out for a Saturday long run. Wait, let me rephrase that: I will have no problemo with three early AM runs a week.

There are two rest days and one cross train day thrown in. I am still going to be trying something a little new from the 4-Hour Body book, Ultra-Endurance I: Going from 5k to 50k in 12 weeks- Phase II. In his book, Mr. Ferris lays out a plan that employs a lot of crossfit and 400m repeats. I am thinking I can do some of the shorter runs in the 400m format. And well, who wouldn't benefit from some crossfit? I would, that's for sure. Plus the workouts are done in about 20 minutes and The Hubs has promised to create a home-gym on our awesome back porch. So I can do this in the evenings. The benefits are two fold: lean, toned muscle and strength. This will help me when it comes to Tri season next summer. Strength means power on the bike, stronger run, and stronger swim. As the Sigma boys in college would shout out as a pretty girl crossed the Student Center, I'll take it....!

Ok, so get to the Mechanics of Running right? This is nothing new or Earth Shaking. It's just a little something I read from the 4-Hour Body book which is written by a dude who is independently wealthy and goes to top researchers and scientists and puts his body to the test. Every thing in his book is backed by research and science and people who are WAY smarter than me, WAY faster than me, WAY better than me (think Scott Jurek,7 time winner of Western States Champ). Most of them are elite athlete coaches and athletes themselves. So they speak, I listen. And hopefully I improve.

  1. Use gravity for forward motion instead of push-off and muscular effort.
  2. Land on the balls of the feet and aim to have the feet land under your center of gravity instead of in front of you.
  3. Never fully straighten your legs. Keep a slight bend in your legs at all times to prevent push-off.
  4. Pull each foot off the ground and towards your buttocks (rather than pushing off) using the hamstrings as soon as it passes under your center of gravity.
  5. Maintain at least a 180 step/min rate, which means at least 90 steps per minute with each leg. This will use muscle elasticity to your advantage. Michael Johnson, who held the 200 m world record for 12 years, and also won 4 olympic gold medals at different distances, was known for eschewing (not my word!!) a high knee lift in favor of short steps. His per-minute step rate was 300! -Taken from Timothy Ferris, The 4-Hour Body

So how do you measure up? I actually have no idea how I measure. Pretty sure if I did #1 I would fall on my face. #2 I think I'm good. #3, I have no idea?? #4, I know I have a lousy back-kick. #5, I have no idea but maybe I should fill my iPod with tons of songs with 90 beats/min. Is that possible? What does that even sound like???? If you know of a 90 beat/min song send it my way so I can hear what that is....

Well, remember how I said I was afraid to push harder in my first marathon? Yeah, I kind of do that for all my races. I have talked about that before. I know I could do better, run faster, swim faster, ride harder. Why don't I? I guess I just don't have to. Do I really want to? I don't know, I guess it would be cool. But this quote struck me:

"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through to obstruction" -William James

I told you I would be back and be bored. So maybe there will even be another post today, like after my swim I am about to go to...


  1. Now I will have to go practise running to see how my mechanics are! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post very informative!! I'm in my 7th week of training for my second marathon! I also used hal higdons training programs! I used the novice 1 last time and this time I am using he intermediate 1. So far so good!!

  3. Thanks for giving me something to think about. I've never used a training program for anything.

  4. I love the reminder about mechanics. I'm running a marathon tomorrow and I'm going to try to remember these. Thanks!

  5. Glad you found a plan you like! I used hal for my first three marathons and LOVED the plans and all of his advice. have you read his marathon book? I read it before each of my marathons and highlighted a bunch of great quotes, tips, etc. He has so much great advice. :)

    And thanks for the tips on mechanics. All good reminders!!

  6. If you're looking at pace songs, try You just put in your per mile pace and it generates a long list of music that matches that bpm.

  7. Thanks for the tips! I'm hoping that if I think about this stuff while I run my legs won't feel so heavy. Getting back into this running thing is harder than I thought....that's what I get for stopping!!
    I already turned down an offter to run Nashville R&R with a friend because it's the same weekend as OKC!! I'm hoping to do the FULL next year!!

  8. I've never really paid too much attention to the mechanics of things, mostly because I hated science in school, but I imagine it'd make me a more efficient runner if I did :)


You're pretty much awesome!!


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