Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Form and the beginner runner

As someone who’s been injured more than a few times, running form is something I’ve heard a lot about.

When I was in elementary school, we had a unit in gym class that focused on teaching us how to run. I missed that unit. No, seriously – I was sidelined in a full-leg cast that spring. My mom always joked that I couldn’t run well when I was younger because I missed that unit – but I think there’s a fair bit of legitimacy to that. Not so much the elementary school part, but the learning to run part.

It’s widely assumed that anyone can run. Got two legs? You can run. Got a prosthetic leg or two? You’re good to go, too. Baring that, got a wheelchair and two arms that can push? You can compete in the wheelchair division (helloooo, wonder woman Tatyana McFadden!). All too often, that’s kind of the beginning and end of the road for many runners, especially amateurs.

It’s always astounded me that in running, we tell people to run first, and work out the kinks later. As anyone who has had to unlearn a bad habit knows, old habits are hard to break! We don’t expect swimmers to learn good form on their own – so why do we expect runners to do so?

The main debate for several years was about foot strike – something that can certainly have an impact on form and injury rate, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Cadence? Okay, that’s got some meat to it; but again, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You can have a really fast turnover but still have poor form.

This is something that I fully intend to address when I coach this summer; running form, as much as speed and distance, will be a cornerstone of my coaching philosophy. I substitute-coached for a friend’s 10k group the other week and discussed this with them briefly before sending them off on their speedwork – something which one of the participants told me afterwards was one of the best things she’s learned about running in a long time!

This is something that is in the forefront of my mind right now as I focus intently on correcting my running-form sins and (hopefully) building myself up to be a more efficient runner who can avoid trips to the ortho and PT in the future. I know it’s vital to spend time perfecting form, especially at speed and when tired at the end of long runs, but let’s be honest – I’d really rather be focusing my energy on speed and endurance right now.

Yes, we all know how to run. But when we take up running as a persistent activity, when we begin to log dozens of miles week after week, it’s integral to our longevity in the sport to work on the finer points before injury, rather than trying to re-learn them later. Yes, the body may get more efficient as you run more, but why not give it a head start on the process? I think it’s high time we respect beginner runners enough to help them out, setting them up for long-term success, and focusing on how to run properly.

 


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Winter’s winding down…

I can’t believe winter training is over already! Despite the cold and the blizzard it went by so quickly…

Tonight was our final workout and it was a perfect night for it. We got to celebrate the great races and PRs of those who ran at Rock ‘n Roll DC this past weekend (Jennie slashed 3 minutes off of hers!) and got to see the sunset from the track for the first time since the fall.

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Tonight we did 400s at 15 sec faster than HM pace and 800s alternating between HM race pace and 15 sec faster than race pace – and my 800s averaged 8:59 🙂 Even though my HM goal pace is only 10:00… whoops! It felt surprisingly good to push even though I was expecting a bit of an easier evening. Rebecca pushed me and I’m glad she did. You don’t get better by staying in your comfort zone 🙂


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You Can Call Me Coach Doodle!

This summer I’m going to be coaching my first group!! Ahh!! This is something I’ve wanted to do for the last year and am SO excited to finally have the opportunity!

I’ll be coaching a group of runners for ~6 weeks in preparation for a 5k. Presumably, this group will be a mix of true beginners, first-time racers, and experienced runners/racers, but I’ll obviously find out more this summer.

I’ve been in this running game for a while and have lots of experience and knowledge to pass along, but I want to make sure I’m doing it in a way that is appropriate for all types of runners, specifically beginners. I’m feeling pretty confident on how to help the experienced runners (but I’m open for suggestions for them, too!), but never really trained exclusively for a 5k myself. In order to do this best, I would LOVE to get some feedback from all sorts of different runners!

  • What was the most intimidating thing about joining a training group for the first time?
  • What do you wish had been explained to you better when you first started running?
  • What did you like (or not like) about your first training group experience?
  • What worked best for motivating you (or what was a total flop)?
  • What do you wish your first coach knew that they didn’t?