Keep it steady
by TriHardAlanJan 6th 2013
First race of the year today, Mornington Chasers Regents Park Winter Series 10k. nice and flat and entered it purely because I thought I could run faster time then the recent Twickenham 10k, and I did. Was hoping for 38 minutes but was not unhappy with the 38.26. Was this actually a better performance then Twickenham? Probably not as unlike Twickenham I had firm ground to run on all the way round. What it was however was an exercise in gritting my teeth and digging deep after starting faster then my current 5k pace and you can never practice the mental strength side of things to much.
During the race I had a marshal shout some encouragement with a ┬"nice running, keep it steady┬" comment. Keep it steady? Like most of the people, and the majority of any 10k field, I was busting a gut throughout so why would she say keep it steady? Well, undoubtedly it┬'s my running style, or lack of more to the point. Not sure if Chrissie Wellington coined the phrase ┬"running ugly┬" but she has certainly used it to describe her own efforts and I certainly fall in to that category. Over the years the comments have varied from you run like a giraffe to are you speed walking to some that simply border on the rude. And this certainly isn┬'t limited to friends, even strangers I meet at races feel compelled to comment from time to time and its not limited to people who run faster then me either. When I changed from heel striking to fore/mid foot striking at the end of 2011 there was some improvement, well, some of my finishers photos look better at least!
In the long term is there any benefit to improving my run ┬"style┬"? The change to fore/mid foot striking was not one born out of vanity, that was simply to reduce injury risk, and that has certainly worked. But could further improvements be made with, for example, a running clinic? These are very popular right now, and Triathletes, as a breed, love nothing better then to throw money/gimmicks/gadgets at a problem but I have never been convinced. Before changing my striking I did a lot of research on the web and most of it concluded that it wasn┬'t the part of the foot that lands that is important but rather where it lands, ie under the hips. It┬'s extending the landing point in front of you, and the jarring impact, that causes injury and acts as a brake slowing you down. I am continuously thinking of running form, slight lean forward, chest out, chin up, legs straight etc but this is all done with running efficiency in mind, not style.
I will continue to ┬"run ugly┬", it worked well enough for Chrissie. And if noting else it provides some amusement for others :-)
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