Lesson 1

30 March 2020

OK, so the first lesson. Starts with the construction of the foot: 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and 38 tendons. The bones of the two feet make up about 25% of all bones in our body. The feet are the body’s shock absorbing system.

Our arches do double duty: they support the load of our body weight and collapse to help reduce the impact of landing.”They also have a built-in spring action that both decreases the impact of landing by compressing (coiling), and releases this potential energy into motion by expanding (springing)”.

I really like this reference: “Longtime USA Track & Field coach Rodney Wiltshire once explained why the heel strike is inefficient in very simple terms: ‘Biomechanically, when you heel strike you’re literally putting on the brakes. Great runners don’t put on the brakes with every stride’.”

The big toe and the first metatarsal bear more weight, the smaller toes function to increase our awareness (and perception) of our foot’s position.

Then it deconstructs the landings:

  • heel strike – landing on your heel first
  • midfoot strike – landing simultaneously and with equal weight on your heel and ball of your foot. It is also called flat-foot landing.
  • forefoot landing – landing on the balls of your feet

Then it breaks it down into frames:

  • beginning frame – as the foot gets ready to make contact with the ground it slightly supinates
  • middle frame – when contact with the ground is made, the foot rolls inward, pronating toward the big toes as the spring system coils
  • end frame – the spring uncoils and body weight unloads over the ball of the foot and the big toe

The takeaway: “Besides absorbing the shock of your body weight, landing on the ball of the foot unleashes the muscular-tendon elastic system, decreasing both impact and energy expenditure, while helping propel you into your next stride. The heel strike, by contrast, takes this beautifully evolved system out of the equation and the ankle, knee and hip have to handle the impact of running.”

Did my movement preparation routine – a sequence of stretches – first. Took about 10 minutes and it hurt. My muscles are so tight!

Then came the body weight perception drills. The first one was about shifting the weight of my body from the pringiness position. The goal was to increase perception of where I felt my body weight in my feet.

The second drill was about running gently in place feeling the spring action in my feet and registering each landing and paying attention at how I perceive my body in space – alignment, running posture, etc.

The workout was about shifting from my normal everyday position into my springiness position at least 5 times.

Then followed the strength routine – 8 reps for every exercise.

Trying to be present

This Be Present stuff is harder than I thought. Especially in this COVID-19 epidemic. My mind keeps wandering off to “I hope I won’t bump into anyone on this trail”, something that I wasn’t worried before.

Otto and I went for a run to Cardinia today. It is his birthday and he wanted to start it with a healthy dose of exercise. We went different ways, we both have our own course there.

My muscles and system is still recovering from Razorback, thighs felt heavy and so was pushing uphill, too. The only thing I’ve managed to do right is not over striding.

I am going for a run…

I am reading this book… The Running Revolution by Dr Nicholas Romanov (with Kurt Brungardt). It’s about the Pose Method. I’ve just only scraped the surface, but have learned heaps about running technique, perception, etc. In it, dr Romanov encourages the reader to set up a running journal (any kind).  This is mine.

Reflections

I became a runner in my early forties. I’ve been run/walking a 3.63 km loop at Cardinia Reservoir Park for ages, but the real thing began when Otto dared me into the Asics 5 km at Melbourne Marathon in 2011. It must have been August when I signed up. Then the training began.

I had no clue about how to train. Just went out to Cardinia and ran along the dam wall. First time it took me over 35 minutes and it felt really hard. Then I tried a different approach—I started out with 0.5 km and added to it bit-by-bit and tried faster. It worked.

I ran that 5 km race in 28:01 and I was really happy with the result.  Within 2 months I have built up to 20 km, same approach (bit-by-bit) and along the same dam wall. Frankly, it was quite boring, but I enjoyed the power the progress gave me.

Next year I’ve signed up for the Morning Herald Sun Half Marathon in Sydney and wanted to finish within 2:30. I did it in 2:09:55. Then City 2 Surf, followed by Blackmores Half and City 2 Sea (Melbourne).

In 2013 I only did the Sydney runs and I didn’t get any better but at the Christmas party one of my former colleagues talked me into doing a marathon. So I signed up to the 2014 Melbourne Marathon besides doing the usual Sydney halves and City 2 Surf. The same person mentioned the Trail Running Series and that the upcoming race is in Olinda, close to where we live…

It seamed like a feasible challenge, so we (Otto and I) both signed up for the 15 km medium course. About a week earlier I checked out the course… I knew what was coming, but he didn’t. Race day came, thick fog and cold, but boy that was fun!! We could hardly walk for a week and I got hooked on trail running.

2014 was a good running year—scored a half mara PB, did the full marathon, the first trail race and signed up for the only race on my birthday, the Great Alpine Road Half Marathon at Dinner Plain. This is how I got to know Paul Ashton and Running Wild. And from here I was hooked on mountains and surely the ultras started winking at me.

2015 was full on. Did Two Bays 28 km, Kilcunda Half, The Prom 44, both half marathons in Sydney, the first 3 races in the Salomon Trail Running series (the long distances, naturally), City 2 Surf, the inaugural Hounslow Classic 23 km in the Blue Mountains and 70 km of Alpine Challenge 60 km (took a wrong turn at Cope Saddle Hut which costed 10 km). The latter was my first true ultra.

2016 happened all in Victoria – Two Bays, Kilcunda Half, Razorback 64 km, Mt Buller 45 km, The Prom 60 km and upped it at Alpine Challenge to 100 km.

2017 started out with Bogong to Landfords 35 km (didn’t make the 7 hr cutoff), Wilsons Prom 60 km, did City 2 Surf supporting a good  friend of ours, the Sydney Blackmores Marathon as a qualifier for 6 ft Tk (which didn’t go too well) and signed up for the Alpine Challenge miler. Well, stuffed up with the shoe/socks combination, didn’t take them off at river crossings and ended up with blisters from around 34 km into the race. I’ve downgraded to 100 km, which was a 2 hr PB.

Not much happened from racing point of view in 2018. The year started with sweeping the Langfords to Hotham course with Dan, then Kilcunda half, Razorback 64, the Prom 60 and my DNF in the miler at Alpine Challenge, with a 60 km finish. I pulled the plug at Cope Hut (92 km). This was the year the course changed because of the snow. We were doing 35 km loops, alternating the direction.

2019 was a pretty good racing year in spite of all the stupid injuries I clocked up. After sweeping the 63 km portion with Al at Oscars Hut 2 Hut, I’ve slipped and cut my right knee open on my local trail at Cardinia. While being stitched up, doc said I’d be able to run in 3 weeks.

He probably thought I’d start jogging, but I’ve cut back from Razorback 64 km to 40 km. It took me a bit longer to complete that course but I did it. I followed it up with Mt Buller 45 km, then a nearly 1 hr PB at the Prom 60. I dragged Maria into her first race at Silvan Long Course in August, then ran a great race in Italy—Lago di Como Ultra 60 km. This was supposed to be the lead up to GOW 100 km, which was altered due to the weather to 80 km.

GOW was meant to be the training race for Alpine Challenge miler. The AC course had to be changed due to the fires in the Alpine area, which meant the milers doing two of the original third loop as loop 2 was out. It was a hot day and heat and me don’t get along. Again, I cut it back to 100 km.

Two weeks later I went back to do it solo. The heat bit my arse again. Read the full story here.

…and this is how I got obsessed with finishing that miler…

This year (2020) started out with a grade II ACL tear which I’ve scored while skiing in Europe. I just refused to let it get to me and started with hiking, then jogging, then running. I’ve swept the Archie 55 km in Feburary, then Razorback 64 km was my first race of the year. With COVID-19, most of the races on the calendar are cancelled—have no idea what the year is going to shape into.

Goals

Main goal is to finish the miler

Other goals:

  • learn these new rules of running
  • run with precise and perfect technique
  • run effortlessly
  • learn to explore the powers of perception (sense data, awareness, feeling)
  • fix recent injuries and avoid getting new ones

Focus Preparation

This is going to be embedded into my run reports, won’t write them here.

Post-Session Thoughts

Same as with focus preparation, will write about them in the run reports.

Reframing

Goes as well into the run reports.