Friday, September 30, 2011

Tryin' To Make This Look Easy

"But what she ... what she don't know ... is how hard it is to make this look so easy"
                                                                                                                                               "Easy" ... Rascal Flatts & Natasha Bedingfield

I wanna be fast!  I mean I want a really fast person to say, "Wow, that guy's pretty fast!"  I have a LONG way to go.  But I spend countless hours trying to improve little things that will propel me toward my running goals.  Now I know there are some who'll roll their eyes when they read that.  I mean heaven forbid that any of us should be competitive or try to improve our running status, or even our standing in life for that matter ... but I digress.

The last 100 yards of the
Cerner 15K ... heel striking again!!!
But more than fast, I really want to be one of those runners who just glide when they run.  A picture of perfection from breathing, stride, form ... everything!  You know the type ... one of those folks that look like they are not even trying due to their great form, just floating along at a very rapid pace.  THAT'S what I really want to be, regardless of the clock.

Unfortunately, my running form has never been the best.  I work, and work, and work on it, but it's just not natural for me.  Michael humors me from time to time and tells me that I look like I'm gliding ... and honestly, I think I'm getting better.  But mostly when I run, I feel like my feet are furious with the pavement and out to teach it a lesson by inflicting some pain ... pound-pound, breath, pound-pound, breath ...

I love race photos because you can analyze so much about yourself and your running form.  I know I'm not alone.  My ex-brother-in-law, who is a great Triathlete, told me he revamped his whole running style based on the way he looked in his photos.  Most of my race photos reveal that when I really open it up and start to sprint at the end of a race, I'm bent over, my shoulders hunch, and MY FRIGGIN' HEALS try to pierce the pavement!  I think that's fairly natural ... I mean we ARE pretty tired as we approach the finish line.  But I always think if people saw my race photos ... they would be like, "You mean that effing guy beat me ... no way!"  I just don't look like a natural runner.

Maybe I'm too hard on myself.  I mean I compare myself to the best runners.  I think using them as a model will only improve you.  But frankly, I'm about 20-30 pounds heavier than most of the runners who's league I desire to be in.  And while I'm pretty thin right now, I just don't have a natural runner's body.  So trying to keep up with them is always going to break my form down a little.  And in stating the obvious, I'm just not as fast as them!  But how do they make it look so easy?

Ah yes, cupcakes ... during a marathon!!!
When I watch videos of the best runners in the world, they are relaxed, perfect form, and their strides are smooth and efficient.  I look like a hair-on-fire little kid running a 100 yard dash to win a giant grape snow cone or something.  The elite runners seem to be smooth and fluent.  But I'm a work horse out there!  I guess all you can do is keep plugging away.

There WAS one race where I felt pretty relaxed earlier this year ... it was while I was eating a cupcake while running the Cupcake Marathon!  Now that was EASY!!!  If I could find a way to incorporate cupcake consumption into every run, I know I would relax and enjoy it a lot more.  The only main concern there is not eating the paper, or choking on frosting or those little candy ball things.

Good running form can be such a challenge.  Plus there are SO MANY different theories out there ...

"Stay as straight as an arrow and 'ride tall in the saddle'" ... "On second thought, lean slightly forward"
"Keep your foot strike flat and even" ... "No wait, run more on your toes"
"Keep your knees high" ... "No dummy, only lift your feet off the ground about 1/2 inch"

I mean, it's all pretty confusing.  There are of course some basic principles, but how do you make it look easy???  Again, stating the obvious ... I have found that the better conditioned I am, the stronger I am during a run, and thus ... better form.  But no one is ever gonna look at me and think that I am the picture of graceful running.

So as the miles grind by ... mostly without cupcakes, I'll be constantly trying to improve.  Trying to make what a lot of people think is "really hard" look easy.  It'll take more time and training, but I'm not afraid of that.  I just want to get to the point where someone says, "Gee man, that looked easy for you!"  And I can say, "Yeah, it wasn't too bad ... pretty easy!" ... but I don't see that in the near future!
... be great today!


  1. You'll get there. I think being aware of our form is half the battle won already!

    Oh, I very much like the whole concept of cupcake marathon almost as much as I like my Wineglass Marathon! Plus, we got to see a pic of you running in something OTHER than that blue shirt! Please tell me you own more than one of them ;)

  2. TUR ... Ha, nope, that's the only blue shirt - but I DO wash it!

  3. I know you always try to be humble, but you are fast.

    As for running form, I know there are some tweaks that all of us can make, but I try to be careful with too much on that, because if you try to change everything at once it seems like you might get injured.

    As for the heel strike at the end of races, that is to be expected because you are trying to run as fast as you can with high turnover, and all you can do is try to increase stride length when you are literally sprinting all out. I'm assuming that sprinters do the same thing in a 100 meter dash, though I'm not sure on that.

    And as for elite runners who have efficient strides, I think they are generally born with that - there's a reason they are the elite. Though we can try to somewhat emulate them in how they run.

    Awesome you saw Moneyball! It is indeed awesome.

    Yea, the Chiefs got unlucky with the injuries to Charles, Berry and Moeki. You guys seriously have a chance of going like 2-14 I think. Andrew Luck is amazing, I wish the 49ers could get him, but they will be too good to get him I think. lol

  4. This is a great post.

    I always look at other runners while they are running and ask my myself "How do they run like it's easy?". It seams like they glide through the race.
    I know I'll get better with training, but I feel like I will never be that smooth. To hear you think the same as me, is crazy. I think of you as one of these fast, gliding runners. I'm nowhere near your mile\minute times. Dude you are fast!!
    I guess as runners, we always look to be at that level of the people ahead of us.

  5. I think some of those guys are just born with it! Honestly, my boyfriend is a speed demon, but like you he's a lot heavier than most runner. I mean you guys are muscular-heavy, not fat-heavy). When he runs, he looks like he is in SO much pain. We just raced a couple of weeks ago and I have NEVER seen him look so bad in a race photo. Honestly, it was brutal - his face, his body, everything. I definitely think that you can improve though. Cupcakes sound like a good start :)

  6. Keeping your knees high is only good if you're a sprinter. What we endurance athletes need is to conserve energy so why waste all that extra effort lifting your thighs high?

  7. My form always falls apart at the finish sprint for me, too (or what I call a sprint :^) ). I figure as long as I'm maintaining a sort of decent form for a non-elite (all I can hope for, really) and staying non-injured while getting faster, I'm doing the right thing.

    I did go try on some Newton shoes last week. It was amazing how they push you onto your forefoot more. I'd love to buy them and give them a try, but I'm frightened off by the price tag (for now!).

  8. Awareness of the problem is a key step to improvement. For most runners this occurs following a semi-serious injury, such as a tibial stress fracture for me, or a calcaneus (heel bone) stress-fracture for a friend. In both cases these injuries were doubtless precipitated by our heel-striking running form. I found the DVD "Evolution Running" (look for it on to be excellent, as following its guidelines I gradually increased my leg cadence while simultaneously adopting a slight forward lean from the ankles - the combination of which shortens the running stride length somewhat via preventing over-striding. The DVD was tons more helpful to me in changing my form than well-written books such as Chi-Running, I believe since it's so much easier to emulate a person running than a book's description of how it should be done!

  9. I ran "incorrectly" for 35 years when I landed the injury from hell (over striking heel striker, go me!) and had to relearn how to do it all from scratch. Not easy, but I feel finally after many painful months, I no longer feel myself forcing the mid-strike, it's just ....there! In fact, I TRIED to heel strike the other day and I couldn't even do it. The magical question will be to see if it will come into play at mile 25 of a marathon, when we're so friggin' tired. I bet a cupcake would help, though :).

    You are speedy, but I understand how you want to be speedier (it's all relative, right?!?) and make the changes you desire. You have the right attitude and it will come...persistence and patience. :)

  10. ah the form....I have dreams about it.
    seriously it is pretty sad for a turtle like me and I would not say that to someone who does not run cuz well that sounds crazy. I read all the articles in RW on form and tips on how to get better and all that. Then I go on a run and I think about it and it slows me down. a lot. I am blonde..I cannot run AND focus on form at same time. If I dont think about stride and foot placement and posture my pace is better. I know I run straight up, when I started this my husband would tell me that as if it was a bad thing...but I never changed so that is one +. I am a giant and I always wonder...long stride or short stride...short ones dont come naturally. it is a constant battle...the heel, the steps, the breathing...ok I need 2 tylenols for my headache now!!

  11. Ah do not worry much about the weight thing. My boyfriend is fast and has beautiful, gliding running form. He can run a sub 3 hour marathon without trying and having no form breaks and he is about 180 lbs, 5'9"

    Form takes a LOT of practice. You will get there. Good luck!

  12. Most of the videos available on elite runners show them run when not tired. Have you seen Meb K running New York last year? Holy heel strike. And Paula R is famous for horrible form... Don't be so tough on yourself (speaking to myself here, too, bc I do the same thing). Form is something individual, and the more one runs, the more the form changes and one becomes more efficient. Sprinters are more on their toes (more speed, less resistance for long distances), marathoners and ultra marathoners are more on their forefoot (more efficient long distance, less speed). I think you have been doing amazingly with your running and staying injury free, so focus on that!


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