Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Running well and running faster

Since my last blog post in May I've grown in confidence and have been enjoying my running. I feel like I'm moving well and with that, becoming faster. I agree with Pete Magill when he says "If you want to become a better runner, begin by running better." I don't agree with the oft-expressed philosophy that running is a simple thing that we all learn to do naturally as children and to run faster you just move your legs faster. When we observe runners in a race it's easy to pick out the runners with good form and those with bad form. Sometimes those with 'bad form' are faster than those who look good — some people say 'it doesn't matter what you look like if you're running fast, your form is natural to your own physiology and shouldn't be changed.' I believe all runners can make adjustments to their form which will help them to run better and faster. Having said that, don't make wholesale changes and expect problem-free running. Change gradually, just as you would gradually increase your mileage or the amount of speedwork in your training.

My weekly mileage is now averaging 78 kilometres. In that mileage there's some 'vert chasing' on a couple of days. Last week I climbed 1,666 metres according to Strava. The reason for this change is to build leg strength and resilience. I'll look for the steepest hills I can find, hiking strongly the 'ups' then running cross country on a gentler descent for balance and speed. It's fun! My 5k race time is down to 24:46, run at the YCRC Half Marathon Eve 5k on 26 May. I enjoyed the race, running with Brian early as we chased Jim. I couldn't close the 100m or so gap to the group of Christine, Miriam and Richard as we ran towards the turn. They ran 22:59, 24:03 and 24:07 which is where I'd like to be in another six weeks. Last Sunday I ran in a 2.5k cross country race and had a fun 'win' over Dave, who left his finishing sprint way too late!

View of Mt Tennent from the lower slopes of Mt Rob Roy


Blogger Nev said...

Great post Ewen. Congratulations on your progress. Running form / mechanics seems to be talked about a lot these days. My own observation is that as your running fitness improves, then there seems to be a "natural" improvement in running efficiency. I think hill running is a great running improver - but hard work! You are doing well there at the moment. However, I do not deliberately adjust my running form/mechanics, unless there is good reason eg. injury. Good luck with your running goals.

9:58 am  
Blogger Janene said...

Great that you are running so well Ewen. I hear you re running form. I hope you continue to move ahead in leaps and bounds.

9:37 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Nev. You're right about efficiency/economy improving as fitness improves. As a runner whose main race distance is 5k, I want to avoid the 'flattening out' of one's stride that is often a side effect of running very long distances in training (the typical marathon shuffle, which ironically is quite efficient!). Apart from the strength gains from hill running on trails, the other bonus is that a shuffling stride is dangerous in terms of falling down! I'm more talking about changes in 'feeling' when one 'springs' lightly off the ground (as in the Verheul Methode), which isn't often noticeable to an observer as a change in form.

Thanks Janene. Same to you with improving and enjoying your running.

10:17 pm  
Blogger Mark Watson said...

How's it going mate? Sorry I haven't commented for a while. I completely agree with your opening points. Form for me has been a constant battle. The changes I've made have certainly improved my running. The key is to identify a meaningful fault then gradually make the changes required. It's never easy though. How we perceive our form to be is never what an observer sees. The battle for improvement continues. 78K for the week. That's impressive mate. Keep it up. Talk soon.

2:14 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Hi Mark. Good to hear from you. I'm going really well thanks - have had a good improvement in the 5k which I'll write about soon. That's so true about our perception of our own form - then we see a finish video of ourselves! The other thing I should mention about running form is that one's body is a whole thing. Someone might mention a 'fault' with our form (such as one leg kicking out to the side or arms too high or low), then if we 'correct' that fault it causes problems elsewhere, when the body in the first place was doing a good job to balance the running movement.

8:48 am  
Blogger canute1 said...

That is very positive news.

I agree that feeling light on your feet is beneficial in a 5K race. There is an interesting paradox regarding being light on your feet. It is best achieved with a short time on stance that is brief enough to facilitate recovery of energy via elastic recoil. Short time on stance necessarily demands a substantial vertical ground reaction force, and hence a substantial ‘objective push’ against the ground. However, unless you have extraordinary conscious control of your muscles, conscious pushing tends to impede elastic recoil and might actually increase time on stance.

Usually the best strategy is simple to think about being light on your feet and let your non-conscious brain take charge of the delicate control procedure required to achieve this. There is no need for a ‘subjective push’. It is probably that Verhuel training promotes this.

12:53 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks for your comment Canute. That's most interesting about conscious pushing impeding elastic recoil. I think Verheul training does teach that automatic lightness of movement. In fact I think that's what it's all about (the movement) rather than what we traditionally think interval training is about.

8:55 pm  

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