On the Brink… – ChiRunning Success
Friday afternoons are a hard time to go motivate for a run… there’s last minute emails, calls to make, people to meet for happy hour… Anyway, I was on the brink of not going for a run. On the brink only, but finally I just got up from my desk and got changed into running clothes. I figured if I was walking around in tights at the office it would be incentive enough to get out the door–I feel silly wearing them around unless I’m running…
So Danny came with me, and we only did a short little run (he was running home and I was running back to the office, so we ran together for a little while with Mei Ling, and then parted ways.) It really was a short route, but so bitterly cold with the wind, I headed back a little early because I wasn’t wearing and ear or hand protection and no windbreaker. Duh, Liz.
I ran just short of 4 miles, 1/2 with Danny, 1/2 without. He and I ran pretty quickly to get off Broadway and into a more secluded area, so the first part of the run was quick and then I slowed down a little bit for the remainder. Either way, averaged around an 8.5 min mile pace: the cold is a good incentive to put a little umph in the stride.
- Didn’t do body looseners. Should have… I felt a little heavy and think the looseners would have helped me get a little energy moving through my body. I really should really try to do that before I go out for a run, no matter how short.
- Didn’t stretch very well. Again, should have. In the book, Danny dedicates a great deal of time outlining the importance of the pre/post run exercises, both mental and physical that will help create a good running practice. I have been a bad example of that lately. I think on the long runs I really do dedicate adequate mental preparation and body loosening and after-run stretching, but I could work on doing the same thing when I go for short runs, too. It would probably help me feel better about each run, no matter the time/length.
- My arm swing is back to normal, according to Danny, but I have as always room to improve my head position and ankle circles. I mean, before Danny even said anything to me, I knew that’s what it was going to be! I felt like I had pretty good form, but of course there is always room to improve. My long neck thing is just about being lazy, and I need to be conscious of it every time I take a step. It can be sort of exhausting and I know when I am tired, I start to slouch. Good thing to practice…. And with the lower leg position/movement, here are a few good tips from Danny about foot placement and ankle circles:
- Every time your foot hits the ground, be aware of where it is in relation to the rest of your body: it should always be behind your hips every time it makes contact with the ground. If you were to look down and see your foot hit, it would always be behind your hips. With correct posture, this is absolutely possible at any degree of lean/speed.
- Your legs should never be ‘coming forward’… instead, imagine that as your ankles come high (even in slower speeds), all the have to do is drop down vertically to touch the ground. If you visualize your foot this way, then it’s more difficult to be taking strides forward, and instead it forces your legs to always swing to the rear which is what they should be doing anyway….
I liked this last point, that the ankles (feet) can just come straight down after they’ve reached the top of their arc: no need to swing them forward. What I found when Danny was describing this to me is that my upper body really started to lean forward and lead my body. It felt a little strange, but I imagine it looked pretty good. This business of keeping my feet always behind my hips is what I know to be true, but what I have a hard time feeling in my body. I should videotape myself to see how it really looks. I should probably also watch the DVD again to get a good visualization. I have a hard time with this because my legs are long, but especially from hip to knee. My lower legs are pretty short compared to the rest of my leg, so in theory, it should be easy for me to get these circles correct and just let my ankles fall gently to the ground. I just need to practice practice practice.
On another note, I feel like I have hit a plateau in my running. I will probably take music with me today on the long run, and will hopefully enjoy it but it’s been a bit of a difficult task to get my legs out the door lately. Danny said it’s normal, and I know it’s normal, but I don’t want to be normal. I want to be better than normal. Who doesn’t? It’s just learning how to take things as they come, I guess, and be happy with the now instead of pining for the future or past.
Either way, I AM at a plateau and I am learning to just be gentle with my expectations. I know I can’t just not run because I don’t feel like it… I’ll fall off the wagon and then my race could be a disaster… I mean, even with this Chi stuff, it’s okay to plateau. The point is to enjoy where I am. It’s been a cool ride so far.. it’s only 5 weeks away… WOW! Who else is running in the Houston 1/2? I’ll be wearing ChiGear, so if you see me, let’s run together for a spell!