Monday, July 4, 2011

A Study in Form

My wife got a great picture of me at my last 5k. I mean it was a great picture that I happened to be in, not that I am bragging about how I look in the picture. However, I am going to brag about how I look in the picture. It was just a few seconsd into the race (maybe a minute or two). It was long enough for me to get into the groove but not long enough for me to pull away from the pack of slower runners and firmly cement myself in the middle of the pack. The sun was just coming up over the trees which made a beautiful lens flare right above my head.

The best part of the picture was what it captured in my form - the fact that it existed. I knew it was very different from how I used to run and I wanted to quantify it. So I went on a search through my pictures from the Disney marathon to find the same point in my stride. There were 22 pictures that showed my feet. I figured one of them would be at the same point or at least close. None. Zilch. Nada. So I decided to go to the video tape and that's why I figured out why I couldn't find that position in my stride - because it wasn't there.

I don't mean that there were no pictures, I mean that portion of my stride did not exist. In my 5k pic, I am in mid air (or close to it). My back foot had just toed off (or was just about to). Going frame-by-frame through my marathon stride, that never happened. Not even in the first few miles. By the time my I was toeing off, my toe was up, heel thrusting out in that characteristic heel-striking position, and preparing to hit the ground. The reason I couldn't find a picture of me in mid-air was because I was never in mid-air.

Now, to be fair, I was running the fastest I had ever run for any mile since I PRed my opening mile in about 6:50. This would not be my pace if I tried to run a marathon today. However, I also can't discount the massive change in how I run in a mere 6 months.

So, that makes the picture my wife took extra-great to me!


  1. That IS a great picture! For all the reasons you mentioned.
    You have a way of making me wig out about my stride and form, lol. Any suggestions on how to work on it? I don't even know if I need to, but I most likely do.

  2. Read, read, read. Look for "natural running", "POSE", or "Chi running". Then and most importantly figure out what you believe and what might work for you. Then make very SMALL changes. If you try to rehash everything you will need to only run very short distances. Otherwise, just make small changes. It should also feel easier (eventually) but will feel awkward at first.