Monday, November 5, 2012

The Decay of My Form

No--not the decomposition of my body after death--I'm talking about running form.

Yesterday I had a great run up on the Appalachian Trail with a couple buddies.  We did a car shuttle so the run was point-to-point, heading south from Caledonia State Park (Franklin Co., PA).  I planned on 11 miles while J and K ran on to the next auto access point to make their run a 16 miler.

Anyway, the trail along this segment is pretty rough at spots, with significant elevation change  My favorite expression for this type of run is that "the trail runs slow."  (I realize that should be slowly, being an adverb and all, but I'm being colloquial here).  I'd not run rough trail like this for awhile, so I became rather abused by the trail.

Towards the end, as fatigue caused my running form to decay, I kept catching my toes, stumbling, and nearly falling.  The failure or ability to lift ones feet as little as 1/4" would prove crucial to remaining upright or biting the dust.  I managed to save myself from falls multiple times, so not falling was indeed an accomplishment.  Had the run been longer, however, I feel certain I would have become horizontal.

Earlier in my running career, when I was focused on road racing, up to and including the marathon, I read a great deal about running form and technique.  Seems that according to the "experts," I could be faster if only I did this, or did that.  Just pick up any issue of Runner's World and you will see what I mean.  I dabbled in trying to improve my running form, with no success.  Maybe I didn't work hard enough at it, but eventually I realized that I ran because I liked it, and when I became focused on "improving" I began to dislike running.

I didn't realize it at the time, but my rejection of messing with my form represented the first manifestation of the principles of running for the pure enjoyment of running...and that principle eventually steered my course into trail running and Ultras.  Yay!

I believe that each one of us has a form and technique that is unique to us, predicated upon our physiology and our physique. The way we naturally run is in all likelihood the correct form for us.  Unless you have the potential to be world or national class, just run the way you run and enjoy it.


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