Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On Posture and Cadence...

So I just watched this little video clip of Pete Jacobs talking about what he focused on when he was trying to teach himself to run more efficiently. And while I'm no Pete Jacobs, I can nevertheless100% relate to what he's talking about in that video b/c they are the exact same things I've been discovering for myself these past few months!

When Marilyn was here last month she could see right away that my posture and my cadence were holding me back from progressing with my running. So the first thing she did was try to make me move my feet quicker. As I've noted here before, this was awkward and uncomfortable b/c in order to do that I had to take itty bitty short little steps. And I had to be reminded every 15" to keep my hands up! At one point she even took her shoelaces out of her shoes and made me hold them around my neck which forced me to keep my hands up so I wouldn't rub my neck raw.

It only took me ~2 focused weeks to make that cadence/hands thing a habit. Those 2 things alone did not result in me running any faster, but it did seem to make my running more efficient, and for an endurance athlete, that seemed like a worthwhile achievement.

Then I discovered the new Curve treadmill at our gym. I was just sort of curious so I hopped on it. And WOW! Um, Awkward! To be completely honest, I sucked at it! I really couldn't get my balance right at all... step too far forward on that thing and the belt speeds up way too fast and you lose control... Lean back at all and the belt just completely stops. I spent my whole first session (~30') pretty much just oscillating between that belt whirling out of control or just coming to an abrupt halt.

So. Given how much that sucked, seemed like something maybe I should try to work on right?!? I left the gym that day pretty convinced that if I kept trying, I'd learn how to run on that treadmill... This month Marilyn gave us all the green light to go ahead and add 10-20' of relaxed jogging each day if we wanted and/or could fit it in... so I've been using some of these bonus sessions to teach myself how to run on the Curve. I did some research about how to best use the machine, and it seems it's meant for short interval type work for neuromuscular coordination... so that's pretty much how I've been using it. I'll jog for 30-90" at a time (form focus) then walk ~30" then repeat. When I do it that way, seems I'm better able to really focus on posture and foot placement, which seem to be the 2 key elements that allow you to run on that thing while feeling balanced and in control. And balance and foot placement were the things that, even though I'd upped my cadence and could keep my hands high, I still didn't have right.

The most interesting thing has been how I've felt the changes that this Curve mill forces while I'm out running on the road. I'm actually running faster now! But not harder! DING DING DING! So it turns out, if I can get that forward lean, I move forward at a faster rate without working so hard. I feel a bit like a moron that it has taken me what, like 20 years?! to figure this out but hey, at least I finally got it! Or am getting it is probably how I should write that... I'm certainly not a master BUT it is coming. Yesterday I was on a regular TM at my gym and doing some 'quickness intervals' Marilyn likes me to do and I could tell by how easily I was able to run faster than 5k pace (a lot faster!) that the forward balance thing was becoming habit. And now if my weight shifts back at all I can feel it right away which also seems like a giant leap forward.

So, I'm a swimmer, which means that most of the time I am thinking like a swimmer, and relating all sporting things back to swimming... and I had this little A-HA about how swimming faster and running faster are not really altogether different endeavors. To swim fast, you need to be efficient with your stroke... Reduce drag from your lower body by staying 'on top of it'... It's about achieving balance on top of the water and keeping your turn-over UP. I feel this a lot when I'm doing repeat race effort 50's... The Roka Sim Shorts help a ton with this as well... Just putting you in a body position where your balance is better on top of the water so you are set up to execute a stronger catch/pull... Then it turns out, running is the same damn thing you guys! It's about staying on top of it and keeping cadence UP. Too bad there isn't a company making the equivalent of a Roka Sim Short for running...

So there you go... Posture and Cadence. Keys to swimming and running faster and more efficiently!

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