Running Form Track Workout
My favorite venue for running is out in the mountains and forests. While I love these runs, I've been inspired by Danny's Boston marathon training updates and other instructors' talk of track workouts to get in some consistent flat running for form work. I took Alice Diffely's Form Focus Sequence workout (November 2008 ChiLiving Newsletter) to the track today. Here's how it went (with a few modifications; reference to book noted):
After a mile of easy first gear running to the track, I started counting.
Lap 1 – One Legged Posture Stance (p. 115 in the ChiRunning book). Each time my foot came down, I body-sensed it landing at the bottom of a column formed by my shoulder, pelvis, and ankle. I used my Y'chi (p. 94), so my brain could respond to what I was feeling, instead of 'directing the show'.
Lap 2 – Lean with a bungee cord (p. 81). I let the bungee cord pull me gently down the track, feeling a slight upward pull. This helped keep my chest open; I was starting to feel gravity pulling me along.
Lap 3 – Lean, imagining resting your forehead in your palm. This focus helps me relax and get the wrinkles out of the back of my neck. If I have tension in my neck, it cascades down my whole body and running is no longer relaxing.
Lap 4 – The Big Wheel (p. 96) – imagine running inside a giant wheel, with your upper body moving forward, while the lower body moves to the rear. I also imagine I'm on a giant treadmill and just picking up my feet.
Lap 5 – The Small Wheel (p. 96) – imagine your feet are clipped into bicycle pedals, and you can only pull up. This helps you feel that circular motion, and bends your knees. I noticed my speed seemed to increase with no effort: a girl ran onto the track ahead of me and was staying ahead, until I started this focus. I soon passed her and gained a half lap in no time. I felt absolutely no increased effort on my part. Hmmm.
Lap 6 – The ankle lift – (p. 87). As I did this lap, I felt my ankle release as my foot came up, allowing my foot and my entire lower leg to relax. All I had to do was bend my knee, and my foot landed softly behind my hip.
Lap 7 – The arm swing (p.102) – I allowed them to hang and swing freely from my shoulders, with elbows bent about 90 degrees. I matched the cadence of my metronome to my arm swing, focusing on my elbow tips. I have a tendency to hold tension in my right arm, and I practiced releasing that through out this lap.
Lap 8 – pelvic rotation (p.97, 134). I focused on my feet and let the track take my foot back, allowing it to stick for a microsecond before lifting my ankle. I felt my leg get pulled back, and felt my pelvis follow the leg. Instead of focusing directly on the pelvic rotation, putting my attention on my 'sticky foot' allowed all the rest to happen.
At the end of this lap, I continued back on to the trail home with an easy jog. This was one of the best track work outs I have had; it allowed me to get into a consistent run and feel what it feels like to keep good form in my body. I plan to incorporate these workouts more often into my schedule!