This week has had its downs and ups. Sunday had been a total rest day, so I felt ready for my cross training session at the gym on Monday. The mistake was that I did leg presses and leg curls on machines instead of equipment-free exercises I usually do for my quads, hamstrings and glutes. To make matters worse, I set the machines with higher weight than I typically to.
The net result was that I was extremely stiff on Tuesday, particularly in my knees. I did an easy 3 ½ mile run in the morning, but I didn’t play my typical 9 holes of Tuesday afternoon golf because I was so tired and stiff. I had terrible pains along both tendons in the back of my neck, probably from straining with the extra weight on the machines at the gym on Monday. Aleve didn’t help much.
I did feel better by noon on Wednesday, however, so I was able to add one more 200 meter repeat than I had been able to handle in previous weeks. The average time for the 200s was slightly slower than those of previous weeks, but the rest interval between them was less than in previous sessions. My left knee was sore during the warm-up, but was fine during the repeats. I was particularly pleased because I focused on relaxing my stomach core and shortening my stride, and I felt relaxed overall during the repeats most of the time. I’ll have more on this in a minute.
Thursday was another cross training day, but on the golf course. I played 9 holes, relaxing my stomach core and shortening my backswing. I hit the ball more consistently straight and with a higher arc, carding 3 pars, more than normal. I’m beginning to believe that core relaxation may be the path to success in many, if not all, endeavors.
Getting back to this focus on form, on Friday I did the tempo runs. When I resumed regular training in May, after the hernia operation in March and the glaucoma surgery in April, I was totally exhausted after doing just 1 x 5 minute tempo run. After about a month I could manage 2 x 5 minute tempo runs, with 5 minutes walking/jogging between, but have not felt able to do 3 x 5 minute tempo runs until just this week. In fact I wasn’t even sure I could achieve 3 repeats this week until I actually did it!
Anyway, in recent weeks I have been getting better and better at relaxing my stomach core, elevating my arm action, shortening my stride, and pushing off with my toes. My increased training naturally has increased my strength, but my sense is that this modified form puts less stress on my quads, so they feel stronger. Usually my weak points are my quads.
During this workout I did a pretty good job maintaining the relaxed form, but during the third repeat, I added focus on engaging all of my toes with each foot push-off. The result was I covered the furthest distance on the third 5 minute repeat, and I did not perceive I was expending any more effort!
I now believe this may be really important, so I am focusing on pushing off with all my toes, even when I am walking around the house! I have learned over the years that when I am trying to change something in my running form, I focus on the change in every possible way, until it becomes automatic.
I realize this may sound weird, but I’m giving this a real go. Let’s see where this leads. If you would like to know more about what I have done to strengthen my feet, please send me a comment.
As you may have gathered from this blog’s lead photo, my wife and I were recently in Copenhagen, Denmark, which completes our touring of Scandinavia and Finland. We had read that cabs were expensive there, so we took the 5A bus from the front of the airport to the police headquarters downtown and walked the 500 meters to the Marriott from there. That cost the equivalent of 14 US Dollars for both of us.
The next day we took the Canal Boat which has a 9 a.m. departure from a pier just down from the Marriott. The boat traverses the canals, which crisscross the center of the city, and then goes out into the harbor. There you get views of the new Opera House, the Naval Museum, and the famous Mermaid Sculpture, which was based on a story by the Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. This tour gave us an excellent sense of the way the City is laid out for when we toured it on foot the following day. But navigating the curving, frequently name-changing streets can still be a challenge because they wreak havoc with your sense of direction. Just ask my wife how confused I got!
If you would like to see information about my children’s stories, my thriller, or my travel experiences, please go to: www.allanwchapman.com (if you’re not already there).