Progressive Running

Where to learn running techniques

Month: February 2016

Running, Meditation and Daydreaming

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Running of course is a repetitive activity and this actually provides a proper basis for focusing the mind however you might have found it hard too to think deeply about a matter at running. With that level of distraction perhaps listening to music would be an easy way of occupying the mind. Well, telling you something about uncool me (lol) I have never ever listened to music while running because I am either constantly checking my posture or am enjoying my daydreaming or sightseeing! I also enjoy the feeling of freedom at running and want to taste every second of it. I do not find it boring at all to amuse myself with music to be able to plough on.

As you might know there are lots of studies done on benefits of meditation. If by any chance you have researched meditation you must have come across articles on how it boosts brain activity, or how it helps [bad] stress.

What one tries to achieve at practicing meditation is this day-to-day need for focusing the mind on a topic to perceive, analyse and to conclude the best thought about it. Meditation is the exercise of the brain for show time, exactly like the preparation workouts for an athletic competition.

What makes meditation a challenge is that our minds cannot stop wandering and it becomes harder or sometimes does not make sense at all when we are engaged in an intensive physical activity.

A while back I was invited to a meditation session at work run by a dear colleague Daragh Byrne who is now running . That was a great start to understand benefits of meditation and how it works but as far as I am too active I wondered if I could use the idea in a vigorous way of my own interest, and that would be of course running. So I tried focusing my mind on a single aspect of a good form at running for 1 kilometer. First time was hard, my mind started wandering a minute into the 1st km split. I pushed again and could hold for another minute and struggled until the kilometer was over. I rested (!) in the next kilometer, started again at the 3rd km split,  and kept it as a routine: meditating by focusing my mind on a simple movement that would maintain a single aspect of a good running form at every odd kilometer. And I kept the habit since then. A GPS watch helps a lot actually, it beeps and reminds of the new kilometer split.

What one would have to do is to bear in mind some focal points of good running form to pick one in turn at every other split. Examples of such focal points:

  • Breathing synchronised with steps
  • Elbows on the sides to move on a straight line back and forth
  • Eyes on the ground looking at 10-15m ahead
  • Core activated, tummy tucked in and back straight (straight line from head to ankle)
  • Push the air out, do not attempt [hard] to forcefully suck the air back in (leave it to your lungs to do it automatically for you)

My easy runs are at the pace of 5:xx per km which would give me 5+ minute meditation and the same amount of time goes to daydreaming and sightseeing. That is quite a good time for meditation and enjoying the sceneries.

Give it a go, leave the music back at home and instead use your time to check / correct your form while meditating by applying any of the above-mentioned focal points or any better ones you may know of, at every other minute or any time period of your choice. At the end, what we all probably agree with is it never hurts to hit two birds with one stone ;)

Kids do not need support!

Was at a shoe store to buy a pair of shoes for my little daughter who is 2 years old. Searched the range of products at the shop and unfortunately could not find what I had on mind. I tried every shoe by bending and twisting them to see how flexible they were, unbelievably none were. I asked the shop keepers for zero drop shoes and they had no idea what I was talking about. All the shoes had a thick and inflexible sole, and an elevated heel to provide “support” for kids’ feet. That is what the proud owner of the shop enlightened me with.

Those who know me in person or have read my earlier blog posts should probably know how much I appreciate the idea of minimalism at running. A big chunk of the fuss about minimalism is due to the negative impact of our modern lifestyle to our posture. The support from shoes tend to provide comfort, which means it does the job or a portion of the job of some parts in our feet to take the pressure off them. Therefore those parts become weaker and lose their coordination to act properly at walking or running or even standing, because their jobs are taken over by shoes.

It is very common to feel pain at knee, shin or ankle shortly after running in a new pair of shoes. Such pains are due to the adaptation of our lower leg soft tissues (muscles, tendons, whatsoever) to the new condition. They naturally want to take their designated action at a phase of running but their job is already taken so they conflict with the shoes, but our body is smart enough to adapt, so those parts would stop their behaviour or lessen the force exerted behind the actions by a new wiring developed in the brain to turn such movements off or be replaced by some others and that is it: we deviate from natural movement of our body parts to serve a purpose, which is either comfort or speed (cannot think of more, can you?).

I wonder if mobility scooters were cheaper than shoes, how many of those runners in highly supportive shoes would buy one?!

Joking apart, have you ever seen athletes who proudly say that they have manged to skip working out some muscles in their body?! I have, shod runners with cushioning, arch support and elevated heel in their shoes do it all the time. They skip strengthening their feet, you know why? because it is bloody hard! it takes time to work out those tiny creatures down under your legs but it is possible and comes with great benefits. It is like building the foundation of a house, is not it the most important very first step?!

What I am trying to conclude here is there is a cycle of wrong unnatural doing, mainly driven by the [growing] tendency for [more] comfort, and is enforced to the world of the little ones too. A kid is so light and fast growing compared to an adult. Let them develop by their nature and grow stronger feet. They can manage because their proportion of strength to body size is much more than that of a typical adult. Have not you seen little kids who can hang off a bar one-handed?! I cannot do it for longer than a second but my daughter can for an impressively longer time. It is very simple, her body is too light for her hands until she grows up so that the balance of strength would be about to tip. If she keeps practicing she would likely be able to maintain that proportion for longer or maybe even a life time but probably the modern lifestyle would stop her at some point. That does not mean we are allowed to weaken our kids’ feet, make them be demanding support for the most natural sport just because we, as their parents, have gone on such a path. It does make no sense to me at all.

So we went online and found these ones at Zemgear, kids love them and my wife and I are so happy about it. Go strong kids, never follow suit blindfolded. terra-misu-black-rasberry_6 main_directory_69

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Have You Done Your Video Form Analysis?

Every athlete would need someone else to take videos of their workout to find flaws and rooms for improvement in what they do. Not only runners are not excluded, they require it much more.

After your form analysis done, you will see your exact moves in the video, how you land, how you swing, how you leap from one leg to another, and so many other items a runner should pay attention to. From there I can point you to what areas to work on and how.

During this video shooting session I will wrap a heart rate monitor to your chest with a stopwatch on your wrist so I can measure your maximum heart rate. Your max HR is an important parameter in your further training.

For a sample form analysis please have a look here: Video Analysis of an Advanced Runner .

Click here to sign up for it today! Get a video form analysis that comes with 6 free personal training sessions. Offer is valid until end of Feb 2016.

Any questions please contact me here.


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