Monday, June 27, 2016

Form, it’s what you make of it…

For the longest time in my running career I’ve had some hiccups in my form that I’ve dealt with.  I’ve had many coaches, friends, and other runners in a race mention my weird leg kick out on my right foot, pictured below.  I’ve also had many people in my life just kind of tell me that it is what it is, you can’t fight your body’s mechanics.  I’ve for the most part believed them but always wondered what it would be like to have better form like some of my friends, or professional runners I see on TV.  I always knew my leg kick out was a major loss of energy in an endurance sport where every bit of energy matters as you crank out races as long as 2 to 3 hours.  Also where I truly believe form gets overlooked is when it comes to injury prevention and how your body can handle the stresses of everyday use.  As runners it’s not usually about the 5k or 10 mile race we run, those are over in 15 to 60 minutes, it’s the hundreds of hours and thousands of miles we run all year long to get ready for these races.  And these are the times we are most likely to get ourselves hurt if we aren't properly running for all of those steps.

I had the luxury of partaking in a friend’s running form clinic in early March of this year and got a lot of good information from it.  My friend Tom Stott came by and gave a running workshop to some of us and I instantly found myself enamored with some new thoughts on form and running I had never thought about.  Things you read on the internet about forcing your foot to land in this exact spot, or doing these few exercises will fix all the problems with your form are everywhere but largely they are just band-aid fixes.  Tom spent the 1 hour with us not focusing on where your foot lands or what strengthening technique you can do but on the four pillars of running(Pull, Pull, Pull).  And that if you can get your body to not fight these pillars everything else will fall into place.  It was entirely new take on form that I hadn’t heard and I was buying in right from the start.  Tom was also one of the first people to tell me, that weird foot kick out you have, yeah we can fix it.  The next step for me was to take the plunge and really start applying myself to these lessons and a followup visit to get some one on one time.

The next step took a little longer than I hoped but about one month after my season had died down, I decided to visit the SportsPerformance Institute and visit Tom and get a one on one form session.  Something I had always wanted to do, but always had my doubts about it actually being able to help me.  That said, I can tell you in the one hour session I had with Tom, I was able to learn more about things to improve my form and techniques than I have in a lifetime of reading articles.  To go to someone who spends his entire life on this and with great recommendations from everyone, means they can provide you feedback that you can trust.  As runners we always think we know everything, and know more than someone else.  So when we have someone we can trust and it goes a long way for us to buy in. (Or maybe that’s just my arrogance who knows!).  If you ever wondered what you can gain from a running analysis I am here to tell you it’s a lot more than you think.  I was able to go through an injury risk assessment that helped point out a couple areas that no one ever thought to check in my life.  Areas I would have never even thought of.  When an issue was found where something seemed off, Tom would stop at nothing to help diagnosis what could be causing it and help me come up with techniques to improve it.  Like the hyper-mobility in my midfoot, a tightness I have always felt but just assumed its part of the aches of running.  Nope, something I can improve.  I also was able to get video with instant analysis of my form, pointing out some of the troubling areas so I can see firsthand.  My favorite part was after seeing the terrible form mistakes I make, we did some running drills and I was able to have another run and everything looked more positive.  In the end I was left with some personalized videos of all the exercises I should be performing on a weekly basis to improve myself.  It’s the kind of care you only get from someone who is truly passionate about his work. 

I was once a skeptic about what I might gain from a running analysis.  I mean I have been running 15 years, my form is fine enough and there is nothing I can do to change it now without causing harm.  I no longer believe any of those things, and fully believe that by focusing more on it I can continue to improve as a runner.  As always in running there are million things we can do to improve ourselves we just need to find the time to fit them all in.  I am a firm believer that finding time to fix form will go a long way and is something you need to take seriously.  It’s essentially free energy you are losing every step, and when we take 35,000-40,000 steps in a marathon that’s a lot of energy we are losing out on.  If you are looking for a professional to check out your form and truly stop at nothing to help you improve in an area we often overlook I can recommend no one better than Tom Stott at Sports Performance Institute.   

What have I been up to lately?  Mostly just training no races in a couple weeks now.  Ramping up the mileage as I contemplate running a marathon this fall or potentially having a marathon free year. “GASP” as some of my friends might say, a year without a marathon isn't a true year.  Racing will pick up with a couple 5k’s and 10k’s in the next few weeks and then a 50k later in July will be my first time attempting an Ultra!  Then who knows!?  Hope to see you out there.  Enjoy some pictures from my running analysis and as always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.