Saturday, January 19, 2013

Duckie Got Back!

I have seen a lot of posts on running form, some good, some not.  Recently, Cortney over at Cort the Sport posted about how she re-introduced the glute action in her stride.  She also provided a link to an excellent article that examines the general correlations between stride and speed.  As I was mulling this over on my 4:30 am run today, I was acutely aware of the lack of rear extension in my own stride.

Like many endurance athletes, I struggle with tight psoas muscles.  The problem that I run into is an overall flexibility that makes targeting these bad boys tough.  Instead of stretching the psoas, I end up collapsing my lower back into extreme lordosis (my massage therapist has fits about this) and cannot get the psoas to stretch.  There is a point in every stretch where you cannot go any further because of the laws of physics... there is no where else to go.  If the muscles hasn't been targeted by that point, you are out of luck with that stretch.  I came across this video lately on  a more functional way to do the pigeon pose in Yoga.  While I am not a lover of Yoga, this pose done this way truly targets the psoas while keeping the lower back from compensating.  I tried it.  It works!!!  This is going to be incorporated into my "Duckie Got Back" routine.  The video is a bit long but really worth it.

It was the addition of the blocks and alignment of the pelvis that got it for me.  Even with this, I have to really focus to keep the stretch in the psoas and not let it migrate into one of the more flexible muscle groups.  It's amazing how the body gravitates towards efficiency.  Muscles that are most able to do a job are the first to volunteer!!
When I stretch or incorporate a rear swing, my lower back collapses inward because the psoas are too tight.  This eliminates all the power and putting pressure on my lower back.
It's these bad boys that are to blame.

I have discovered the "spring" in my step and when I am sprinting, my stride looks pretty good, but at an outrageous aerobic cost.  What I can't seem to manage yet is a swinging stride.  When I am going hard, I drive through like pistons.  When it's supposed to be easy or relaxed, I am shuffling badly.  Even when I add a little spring to my step, my stride is so short that a marked increase in cadence offers very little speed.  Of course, that piston like motion is exactly what serves me so well on the bike and the short, straight-legged movement is very similar to the sprinter's kick (swimming) I used for so many years.   It seems that running simply arrived late to the party and forgot it's invitation.

Last year, I took 5 minutes off of my 5K PR.  I still have a lot of room for improvement but I have seen exponential gains with each year.  That is what happens when you start extremely overweight and out of shape.  I'd say the jury won't return a verdict on the duck as a runner for at least another season or two.  In the meantime, I am shooting for consistency and correct habits.  The speed will come.  Speaking of... time to run!!

"You must do the very thing you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

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