Yesterday (9.9) was my second meeting with my Fleet Feet Marathon Training Group at Rincon H.S. We did ascending; 1 lap (.5 lap walk) 2 lap (.5 lap walk) 3 lap (.5 lap walk) and back down again from 3. Afterwards, I was talking to one of the guys – he just has great form. You know the type; effortless, fluid and pretty much perfect. I told him so and he started talking.
He gave me a couple of pointers. 1. relax your feet and let your leg do the work. Your body will perform as it is intended if you just get out of the way. He also suggested 2. that I think of my leg/foot motion in terms of pedaling a lock-pedal bike. A nice round, even, circular motion with equal effort all the way ’round. The last thing he said was to 3. Try and get your cadence somewhere close to 180/min.
Tonight, I worked on #1. As I started off, I was really paying attention to my feet and how I was interacting with them and they with the ground and the rest of my leg. Did you know there’s a trust issue there? Well, for me anyway, letting go of trying to position my foot as it addresses the ground and just letting it ‘do it’s thing’ is a huge trust issue. It almost feels as though I could trip over my feet and fall.
“What if they don’t land right?” or “what if I land too hard?”
But they did land right and I was landing practically mid-foot. My feet were utterly dependable, and that’s when it happened. My pace after one mile was read off by the female voice assigned to my cyclemeter application: “…average pace, eight minutes, five seconds”. What?!? I was actually going pretty fast, feeling good, my feet and lower legs relaxed and I wasn’t hurting at all.
I kept my awareness on my feet, only to wander away a few times in my mind and have to bring my focus back. One thing I noticed while doing this was that when I wasn’t focused on keeping my feet loose, relaxed, I would unconsciously actively lift my foot on each step. I was activating the fore-muscle of my shin, pulling up through my toes for the next step; which is anything but ‘loose’ or ‘relaxed’. And again, I would have to ‘let go’ and loosen up the control I was exerting, and the energy I was spending, on my lower legs.
While it is important to avoid heel-striking or being up front completely on your toes, I feel fairly confident in saying that the advice I was given was spot on: trust your body to do what it already knows how to do. Get out of the way, and enjoy the ride.
I’ll continue working within this mindset until habit sets in, learning the nuances and adding more of the cycle-motion to my step, but even there, my relaxed foot seemed to utilize this mechanic automatically. Still, my short-term goals are to increase my weekly miles to the low fifties and begin to assess and work on my cadence.
Thanks for reading and keep running:)