Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pursuing The Perfect Running Stride

I love it when I get in a learning phase where all I want to do is learn, learn, learn and read, read, read.  I love when I finally decide to truly learn about something and learn it for me!  I ran all during high school and college.  Cross Country and Track.  I know my coaches had us doing things to help perfect our strides, increase our speed, or improve our endurance.  I just did what they said but really didn't ever care or pay attention too much.  I just ran and whatever happened happened. Running became more of just something I had to do to help with paying for college.  But I'm ready now.  I'm ready to learn for ME and really try to pay attention to the things that my coaches always tried helping us out with.  One of these things is STRIDE.  I'm convinced that my horrible running stride probably has a lot to do with why I tripped in the forest and ripped my hamstring up.  Before that injury, I found my right calf not working after about 9 would just feel awful.  My stumble happened at about mile 9 of an 18 miler (just about to turn around on my trail)  and I'm convinced now that it probably had to do with poor running stride caused by muscle fatigue.  

So, this is how I spent a bit of my morning:

Yes, I'm a big highlighter and write in the margins girl!  If it is my book, it is kind of like a learning journal/book for me.  Then I can go back and read my notes and see what I thought was important.  

This Chapter Pursuing The Perfect Stride is from my Brain Training For Runners book.  Good brain food!  Maybe once I have time to process my reflections, I'll write some key things I think are worth remembering.  In the meantime, I'm trying to do what I can to help  improve my stride.  As starting goals for my stride improvement, I want to be more conscious of not over striding and improving my cadence.  This was a helpful link for me to get more info about this whole cadence thing:  Get Faster! Improve Your Running Cadence.

I have so much to learn!  SO. MUCH.  But this is part of what makes life so stinkin' exciting for me!!  I love to learn. I'm one of those people that loves school...I love being a student.  Just the feel of having my book bag, books, pens, pencils, notes, reading glasses, and time to learn and think.  I even enjoy the homework.  But the good thing is that learning doesn't have to cost a college tuition.  We have libraries, Internet, and limitless ways to absorb information.  I am a life long learner and I love that we NEVER STOP LEARNING and FINDING ways to grow!  yay for learning time!  

Even when it means learning about how Lady Bug wants to be my friend:

 Or learning from an older sibling while Mommy reads her running book for 20 minutes:

 Or figuring out  how to do the puzzle by yourself because Mommy insists on writing one quick blog about her running stride:  

Here is a hodge podge of questions to choose from if one, two or all them catch your interest and you have something to share.  I love hearing from you even if I don't always find the time to comment back right away.  I'm really trying to limit the time I spend on the computer during the day. 

1.  What tips do you have for me for improving my stride?  Please share your wisdom!

2.  I'm not ready for barefoot running but please do share a shoe that you would recommend that will help me run more naturally.  Currently I have the Saucony Kinvaras...are these good for this?  See, I do have a lot to learn.

3. Do you like school?  Did you like school growing up....high school, elementary school, college?  Was it easy for you or did you struggle a bit (and that's okay if you did...not everyone is a conventional learner)?

4.  What is one of your favorite blogs that you learn from?  

Happy Wednesday! 


  1. OK. If you read Matt F (his new Run: The mind body method of running by feel is great!) you know that he believes that running stride changes the more mileage you run. Also, never try to abruptly change your stride bc you will get injured. Small changes do help, though.
    When I first started training in 2009 I had a horrible heal strike, which contributed to injuries. Now I strike forefoot in 5Ks/speed and midfood in marathons. A couple of things that helped me:
    1. Decrease your stride length. If you do that, it will be easier to improve your cadence.
    2. Shoes - I love Nike free, the v4, not the newest version. I wore them in marathons and they are flexible and encourage midfooted running.
    3. Focus on form during the easy/recovery runs. These should be v slow anyway, and focusing on form will make them more interesting. Start with a few miles a week and then build it up.
    4. Focus on form means: lean from the ankles, bend your knees, don't lean backwards or stay straight up, lean into the ground.
    Hope this helps.

  2. Ok here goes...I was constantly injured and suffered 3 stress fractures. I slammed on my heels bad. The only way for me to learn not to do this is to not have a heeled shoe that was weighing my feet back on my heels. This just worked for me, I found it very hard and liberating at the same time.

    Shoes...hmm I would say you need to find a shoe that is FLEXIBLE, and the heel IMO should not have a greater than 4mm drop from heel to toe. If it is your sure to hit that heel first instead of a more natural midfoot stride. I don't know much about the Kirvana, I've heard great things but they look like too much shoe for me.

    I love school, hated it as a kid. What a shame.. I struggled paying attention and frankly given a hoot. Now I love to learn and soak up what ever I can.

    One of my favorite blogs is the hungry runner girl. Shes a young woman who has hopes to someday qualify for olympics. She's awesome!

  3. nice post! fun family!

    1 - actually, i was going to ask you what you know? with coaches in hs and college you obviously have a personal library of info in your own mind for me to call upon.

    2 - i like cushion, cushion, and more cushion in a neutral shoe. i LOVE asics nimbus 12's.

    3 - love all that college was.

    4 - Meg Runs, Fat Guy Running, Minnesota Mileage (Julie's Running Blog), Happy Trails, Dirt Diva, Run Like a Girl, Serious Case of the Runs, and Rundangerously are some of my favorites that I have been following since I started blogging. A few newer ones I like - Yours, Hungry Runner Girl, If I Can't Convince You, I Will At least Confuse You, and Elkton Runner. There are so many others as well I like a great deal as well, However these standout right now. Run With Jill as well - how could I forget that one!?

  4. I have no recommendations for 1 and 2.

    3. I loved school. All school. Middle school was hard because every single one of my friends abandoned me in 8th grade, but I still loved the learning. And I thrived in high school. It was a small school, so it was easy to be a big fish, and having the same teacher for four years of a subject really helped me. College was fantastic. I wish I could have spent more years there, but it was one of those fancy push-you-out-in-four-years-guaranteed schools.

    4. I learn tons about myself and about fitness in general, from all the blogs I read. But I learn the most from Josh Hillis' blog. He's a trainer and kettlebell guru, and my favorite shtick of his is when he gives insight into how famous people train (how they ACTUALLY train, not the BS soundbites they give) to get smoking hot bodies:

  5. Oh man - not sure how much I can add to this - you've got some good advice there.

    1. I changed my stride - over time - to a more midfoot stride and used ChiRunning to get me there (check out the websites). I increased my cadence by using a small electronic metronome which I attached to my shorts (yes passersby DO think you're insane and I accidentally switched it on once in my carryon luggage which I do NOT recommend) and by using PodRunner mixes for a certain beat.

    2. Re Shoes - i just think this is SO individual. Try them on.

    3. I loved school. And I really miss it and love how much I can learn on the internet..

    4. I love so many blogs but yours always spiritually inspires me, Ana-Maria's always makes me want to get out there and work hard, Meg just makes me want to hug her, Emily is just nuts and I love her JUST LIKE THAT, Susan is just such a honey. you're all like friends and together you ADD to my life.

  6. oh goodness, I'm going to love getting all this advice and hearing about new blogs that I want to read! Yay! I hope to get back to each one of you some time today...thank you for your feedback.

    Slomohusky, I guess I do have a pretty good library of running info in my head stored up...especially since my high school coach is also my second father...I lived with him and his family for several years. Love him. I never really was able to push myself past so many emotional barriers...I never even broke 20 min in the 5k...amazing I found a school that paid me to was small. :) I did get my mile down to the 5:20 range but I still got beat big time! A 2:25ish 800 meters maybe would get me 6th place...ha ha. Those girls were SO FAst...and scary! :) Glad to not be competing on a team freeing. You ask anything you want and if I can answer I will but like I said, I have so much to learn. ;)

  7. Love those pictures of the's good for them to be able to do some figuring out for themselves and helping each other, too. I love reading to learn...and reading to read. Your book cracked me up, because that's just what my copy of Look Me in the Eye (written by a man with Aspergers Syndroms and fascinating, especially as a special ed teacher but I'd have liked it anyway) looks like.

    #1 & answers...I'm learning through reading what YOU learn...keep it up! :)

    #3...I LOVE school. I've always loved it. It comes easy to me, which helps. Plus, I really like learning new things, and where else in life do you get a gold star and regularly told you're doing a good job? (Well, besides being a parent...haha haha haha haha).

    That said, I'm a much worse student now that I'm a teacher and used to being the one doing the talking. It takes a GOOD teacher to hold my attention.

    #4...Blogs...hmmmm...I probably learn the most running-wise from Run with Jill.

    As a teacher, I really like It's by a man with Aspergers who works as an autism/aspergers advocate. Lots of valuable insight for me.

    As a mom, I love htt:// She is an amazing mother and blogger who inspires me.

    Adventure racing (great race reports!)

  8. Great blog, Amanda! I really don't have any advice for 1 & 2 as it's something that I am currently working on.

    I did not love high school, but I loved everything before and after it. I really enjoyed my undergrad years and graduate school. I enjoy learning. I enjoy reading and taking notes. My books look similar to yours. I haven't found a good book to read lately so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

    I love as she has an awesome blog. It makes me laugh and I also learn a lot from it. I feel the same way about your blog too!

  9. I had to laugh when you asked me about my stride/form..:) I was thinking to myself.."this girls ran a mile HOW fast in high school?" She MUST have it figured out. Seriously! I bet your fall was more a fatigue and trail issue than anything. I FOrgot to mention in my earlier comment (last blog) that I think strength training the legs and building up strong calves, quads, hamstrimgs and hip fexors can help. (as in the weight room) So can hills.

    Your book sounds great!!!
    Noake's Lore of running has some useful info on this, but much of what i've learned about running is from Runnersworld's forum (marathon race training)- but I try not to spend too much time there anymore, since it was very habit forming ;)

  10. No tips here. I am still trying to figure it out. I'm really going to concentrate on stride length this time around.

    I loved school for the social aspect mostly. I moved during my junior of HS, then hated school b/c I was the odd man out.

    I learn really from every blog. I like the blogs that focus on technique, nutrition and training, but I also really love the more insightful ones. My new fave is

  11. I am answering the school question :). I did not enjoy school until college. I struggled in elementary, Jr. high and High school. My mom was young and ended up having 3 kids by 21. We were not read to as kids and expected to be self motivated even in 2nd and 3rd grade on completing homework (what kid voluntarily does homework?). Was told a lot how "dumb" I was so I didn't even try.
    When I got to college everything changed. I started learning for me and not my parents. I found that I was smart and a great student. I graduated college with a way higher GPA than I ever had and it felt great! I love to learn now and encourage my kids to love school.

  12. OK, yeah, that Willie Nelson thing you wrote about was weird. And spooky. Did seeing him in Bend bring back bad memories?

  13. So funny because I have been really starting to research cadence etc!!! LOVE this post. You are so cute with your highlighter and I really want your kids!! I am going to a class all about cadence, stride etc and they will analyze my stride so I will be doing a long post about that after I go!! Hope you are having a fabulous day!

  14. You and Janae are WAY above my knowledge!! Sorry I can't offer any advice!! I am trying to learn from you Speedy!!

    I totally gave you a shout out on my post--we need to come up with our emotions and "assign" bloggers!! :D

    I enjoyed school and was hard core about I even since elementary! I always want to keep learning--thinking about studying Nutrition...

  15. That is a great book! I have it and often use it as a reference book. I am glad that you are getting alot out of it. Love the pics!

    I can only share what has worked for me. I have changed my stride over time by 1) landing my leading foot directly below my torso instead of way in front of me, 2) leaning forward at my ankles (this took me a long time to learn), and 3) making sure that I can barely hear my shoes landing, indicating that I am not landing on my heel or too far in front and not spending too much time on the ground. Hope that helps.

    As for school, I LOVE IT! Always have! I have taken two breaks from the "real world" to go to graduate school for two different degrees (Math and Stats, haven't used either degree). I would do it again in a heart beat if I had the chance again! I just love everything about school, like you, even the homework!

  16. Loved school. SO much easier and carefree than working and raising a family!

  17. 1) I think the drills that Matt has you doing is going to really help your stride. Have you ever read "Chi Running"? There's some good things in there, too, which are helpful but I am not a fan of the entire book. I'll email you a list of some drills that I think will be good for you. Remind me, cuz I forget sometimes :).

    2) Shoes are so individual so try many to find out what works best for you. I like he Kinvara's you have, but find them to be too minimal for long runs and thus only use them for shorter races and for interval training. I switch through a few different ones b/c my heel does NOT like the same shoe day after day. I use the Mizuno Wave (rider?? Oh geez, I forget now) but those are not my favies so I tend to let them sit in the closet more, and I like the Asics Nimbus and a new one, that Meg suggested, is the Brooks Ghost, which I love!! :)

    3) I was pretty book nerdy when I was a student...but I also ran track and swam on the swim team so I had a big diversity of friends.

    4) I like so many blogs...I really like yours :)

  18. Oh, my gosh...I am soooo not tough. lol. In fact, one of my comments today on another blog was how scared I am on the mountain bike on singletrack. Hopefully I can get over it, bc I'm not going to let it stop me. It would be nice to not want to throw up every time I think about it, though.

  19. So the ladybug book didn't have anything useful to learn? I don't see any highlighting or margin notes. Or is it NOT your book?

  20. i love school. but i do find that i learn more completely when its a subject matter that i get curious about and start researching than anything i learn in a formal setting. i love reading, and never read novels. i'd rather read with a highlighter and notepad than a box of kleenex :)

    i would LOVE to hear more about this!!! so, as you learn--share :)

  21. Re: improving my stride - I made a concerted effort last year to work on this & ended up with a stress fracture. I'm learning to live w/ my imperfect stride, since it seems to work out the best for me.

    Good luck!

  22. i LOVE, LOVE LOVE being a student, thats why I went into education. I learn from all the blogs I love it!

  23. I have no technical tips, unfortunately :( I am such an amateur, though. How awesome that you are researching in books to run better! And I love that your kids actually look like they are cooperating! And how utterly cool that you are still running after all these years!

    As for the school question... I loved school. It was my sanctuary. My home life was pretty miserable and I excelled academically (though was pretty awkward socially). I love learning. That's part of what I enjoy about being a mom... learning something new every day ;-)

    One of my favorite blogs for its inspirational value is Random Thoughts from the Zoo. It is written by a young mother of 8 kids who is also in pursuit of great fitness. She is an amazing person (at least that's what comes through in her It was her blog that convinced me that I could start running again and led me to pick up blogging. I also really enjoy learning from a number of the previously mentioned runners' blogs... Janae's, EMZ's, SUAR, also Setting You Free, GFTW, Running Sane, Q on the Move...

  24. Honestly, I feel like such a newbie. I'm not even certain I knew what the word cadence meant a year ago. I find this all so interesting! Constantly learning and a wealth of knowledge to be found on these blogs! Only problem is, sometimes I spend a little too much time trying to soak it all in....

    Thanks for the nice comment about Reese! I just love your blog. I read it not only because I think you're a great writer and a great runner, but I really think you're a great mother! I love running but nothing compares to be a mommy for me!

    I like really lightweight shoes. I've tried about every brand on the market but I'm really sold on the Brooks launch as a trainer (alternate between 2 pairs at once) and I occasionally wear Nike Frees on the treadmill. I bought Mizuno waveriders (which I've worn before) about a month ago but something is wierd in the left foot. I ordered some Kinvaras! Excited to try them!

    Blogs. I have my standby 3 orginals whom I've followed for a LONG time and now follow so many new inspiring people like yourself:) For fun-those 3! Meg-could ever say enough good stuff about Meg as a runner or as a person, Jill-super genuine-GREAT writer and a wealth of running knowlege-love her. Ana Maria-huge inspiration for me-makes me want to kick @ss every time I think about her. She totally knows what she's talking about too!

    Could this get any longer? Hope you have a great night! Good post!!