Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rethinking the way I run

It started this way:

1. I ran the Seattle Rock 'n Roll half-marathon, my fourth. My time was not terrible for a 47-year-old (2:15), so I started thinking, hmmm. Maybe I should run a full marathon?

2. Grabbed a book on the way out the door to vacation: "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. McDougall has many things to say, but the takeaway message (for me) is that if you adopt a more efficient running form, you're less likely to injure yourself and more likely to enjoy running.

OK. Sold. What next?

My usual method of learning something new is to blitz my brain with all the information I can find on the subject, on the Web and in the library, and then try to pick the best ideas and use them. To try to relearn my running form, I grabbed "Run for Life" from the library and an audiotape about "Chi Running" by Danny and Katherine Dwyer. Also, I watched videos on "Evolution Running" on the Web. All of these books, videos and audio lessons had some common themes: That you should land on your midfoot, land softly, concentrate on quick turnover of your feet, lean forward slightly to increase your forward momentum, and pay close attention to the movement of your arms.

It's been about three weeks since I finished "Born to Run" and became inspired to try to change my stride. A few things seem to be working well, but others are harder to learn.

My goal is to run the Seattle Marathon in November. I'm using a running plan on the New York Times, using a method espoused by Jeff Galloway, which incorporates walking breaks into your long runs. This has been a good method to get me from 5k to a half-marathon, and I'm continuing to use walk breaks as I do my long runs (such as today's 11-mile run). But I've felt ready for some time now to challenge my running and bring it to a new place, and this seems like it might do it.

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