The long look to April

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December 1, 2013 by scratchtype1

Thoughts about what to do and where to go with running have been kicking around in the head, while I run and while I’m not running too. The first and most important goal will always be to have fun and enjoy the vast majority of the time I spend running. If I can do that, run a good number of miles each week, add some tweaks and wrinkles to that, I think I can reach the line of my second goal in good shape. A local 5K around here is done by a hospital and it benefits their diabetes education program. I did in the years 2007 to 2009, then wasn’t at home the weekend in 2010 and wasn’t running during the times it was held from 2011-2013.

So that’s my goal 5K, the one by which time I hope to be in something like racing shape, physically and mentally. The 2 5Ks I did this year were just re-introductions to race atmosphere and surroundings. I ran neither 5K hard, where it feels like you’re just trying to hang on over the last mile to get it done. No way was I prepared for that — my feet are still fairly novice to barefooting and I have done very little running which has challenged my psychologically to sustain a strong effort. Still, despite that, I had 2 terrific results. The first one at the end of September was run in PR time and I then improved upon that time in the second one, trimming my PR down to 25:54.2. Not bad at all considering how long I had been away from running, that I am now 43 years old, and that I didn’t have all that much mileage.

I fairly damn certain the biggest reason that I can run faster now is that barefoot running taught and is still teaching me to land midfoot and that with that my stride turnover is a much quicker cadence. I counted steps during a long run on Friday night and it worked out that I was slightly above 180 steps per minute. And that was easy running, a pace that I could have just kept going on and on. So I got a good running cadence now, which means now it’s a matter of putting work in that will help to lengthen the stride. But as I do that, it has to be with good form.

So how do I do that? I believe there are at least three areas which can help with that — run more, run some more stuff faster, and do some running form drills. Just running more will help because it will continue to help my legs develop better circulation and energy transfer. Running some more stuff faster will help stretch out the stride some more. But to help that even more, I want to try to have a workout after an easy run which do some drills. Today I worked that. After running about 3.3 miles crosscountry on the trails in the open-space preserve, I was at the bottom of a hill. As my legs recovered I walked back up til near the top and then did a 10-second sprint. Took 3 minutes recovery and did it again. Ended up doing 4x10s hill sprints. Just basic strength training for the legs, getting my knees high and glutes firing to drive me up the hill while keeping the upper body easy and relaxed.

After the hill sprints, I was at the top of the hill and a more level area. There I then did 3 skipping drills. I just skipped along til I felt the legs begin to tire, then turned around, jogged or ran back, turned around again and accelerated into a sprint for about 15 to 30 seconds. I took that idea from Pete Magill video on Runners World where after doing a drill, he would have the runners do strides, to help transfer the skipping muscle and nerve stimulation into the running stride. They felt good. I did 3 skipping drills, then followed that with 2 buttkick drills, where you take short strides, and try to kick the back of your butt with the heel. Again follow those up with strides or short sprints.

So there it is. Once a week try to do those things to help me put more bounce and length into the running stride. I’ve got the cadence now, but I need a longer stride if I want to go faster. And I need that. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that when I sprinted the final tenth of a mile on a run that I didn’t feel all that winded by the end. I need the muscles to do more now, to reach farther. I’ve got 4 months to work on that and then hopefully run my faster 5K yet at the Dash for Diabetes come April.

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