I am spending my Sunday afternoon snacking on the couch and watching Parks and Recreation because I never got into it when it first started and now find that the humor is very humorous. This is not how I would normally spend a Sunday afternoon, but E is still cutting teeth and I am getting little to no sleep whatsoever. He is napping, as is his brother, and that means I get to veg out. This is not the kind of veg out that includes giving up on trying to be healthy or abandoning my ideals of being active. This is the kind of veg out that is deserved every now and then as a break from hard work and commitment to your family.
This morning we went for a family walk at a park near by. My oldest will be starting a preschool nature program there on Tuesday and he is sooo excited! Usually a family walk means a lot of meandering and a short walk followed by play time at the park. Today I was on a mission to get some exercise in and begged my husband to push a little harder with me. We completed 3.9miles at a pace of 15:47/mi which felt nice and easy, but also helped me feel like I was balancing life (exercise with family time). While we were out there enjoying nature and the sounds of our kids screaming (because we can scream outside and not in the house) we were also people watching.
There was a fit woman in her 60’s on a bike in just biking shorts and a sports bra. Some day I want to be that fit 60 year old woman who is confident enough to ride around town in biking shorts and a sports bra. There was a cute older couple walking their little dog. In the future, when the kids are gone, I want to still be going on walks with my husband. And there was a girl who was running with the oddest form I have seen in some time. She had short choppy strides with her arms up near her bra line. Her head was high and her back was arched. It honestly looked like she was holding something between her hind cheeks while she ran. This made me want to video tape myself as I’ve been thinking a lot about my own running cadence and gait.
I read an amazing training book (Triathlon Science ) last year that gave me some great perspective on running patterns and since that time I’ve been trying to make changes on my own runs and walks too. A few of the highlights include:
- Landing on the balls of my feet instead of the heels: this allows for greater propulsion
- Barefoot running is the most natural form, but needs to be eased into: if you wear a supportive shoe to run for pronating, work on changing the actual biomechanics of your stride while in that shoe, then move to a neutral shoe, then a minimalist shoe, then try barefoot running on some kind of soft surface like sand before attempting to do it elsewhere (ps-barefoot running on sand forces you to land on the balls of your feet)
- To improve your speed work first on the cadence and second on the length of your stride: turn over faster and then turn over fast with longer steps
Right now I’m still working on the first and a little on the second. I wear a stability shoe when I am pregnant because I tend to be a pronator on one foot only and more so when my center of gravity has shifted. I am currently in a neutral shoe and have been for some time. I can tell that I’m not pronating much at all and I’m getting better at landing on the ball of my foot, but the other day, while alternating running and walking I noticed that my gait has severely changed over the years and it’s not just about how my foot lands. If you’ve ever watched yourself run (looked down at your own legs) or watched your shadow run you may find that it looks different than it feels. This is why I want to video myself running.
When I was younger I know that my stride was very bouncy. I used to see my shadow fly high up when I would push off of the ground. This is not very efficient for moving forward if you’re expending all of your energy vertically instead of laterally. But my stride also used to look purposeful and exuberant. When I looked at myself running last week my shadow looked low to the ground. She didn’t rise up into the air. This made me happy to know she wasn’t bouncing all around and was actually moving forward (see my mantra work here). However, when I looked down at my legs to see what my feet were doing, they looked listless and apathetic. 😦 I started thinking about other women I’ve seen running. Women my age vs. women younger than me and even women older than me. In observation I’ve noticed that our free and long strides tend to shorten with age. Our heads hang down instead of rise up high. Our arms creep up our sides and our hands hang limp. The runner looks shy, uncomfortable in her skin, and not confident about her ability to push forward.
Now, I’m not trying to generalize, these are just a lot of my own observations over the years and what I am personally experiencing now. But I’m ready to add yet another level to my change and that’s to add more intention to what I am doing. I will not just be long and propulsive, but purposeful and joyous in my run. I may not want to run like Phoebe…..
But I no longer want to run like Rachel is before she lets loose. The next run I have will be one of intention. I will breathe to my lungs fullest; I will land on the balls of my feet; I will lean into my run and turn over quickly; I will hold my head high and be grateful that I can run. It will show and I will see it.