November 28, 2010 § Leave a comment
Sometimes it takes an experience in a different, lessor realm to make a lesson clear in a primary aspect of your life.
We are in the process of finishing our basement. Basic stuff, putting up some walls, running electrical circuits, and dry-walling. Saturday, I rented a truck and hauled drywall home. I carried 26 sheets of the stuff from our garage, where I initially unloaded it, down a snow-covered small slope into our basement. Roughly 45 yards.
I’m a runner and I have been since 1984–my commitment has wavered off and on, but for the last decade or so, I have done at least 500 or so miles per year–about 66 hours of running. My leg muscles are relatively strong. My arm muscles are not.
Each sheet of drywall weighs about 55 pounds–over a third of my body weight. I knew I was in for a work-out.
The first sheet was not too bad. Around the seventh, I noticed my grip started to weaken on my panel carrier.
So naturally, I decided to speed the process by carrying two sheets at a time.
It was a disaster. I made it about ten yards before I had to stop the first time. I ended up stopping five times on that one load. Not only did I slow down the process tremendously, I risked damaging the drywall. The lesson I learned was that doubling the workload (weight) much more twice the work if you exceed your strength limits. Whether you are running uphill, into the wind or on a high-resistance surface like sand, snow, or sloppy mud, at some level of difficulty, you might exceed your strength limits and crash.
After the disaster of sheets eight and nine, I started to alternate arms. Up to that point, I had used only my dominant, right arm. I noticed with the very first carry using my left arm that the lack of strength in that arm prevented me from using good form–making the carry more difficult. I found out with my right arm that by bending my elbow enough so that my hand was up against my hip, I could partially sit the sheet on my hip, taking some of the load off from my arm. I was not able to lift the sheet high enough with my weaker left arm to get the same advantage so the stronger arm was not only able to more easily lift the sheets on its own but because it was strong enough to use better form, it was able to make the job easier by distributing the load (although my right hip wasn’t too thrilled about that).
Good running form makes running easier but requires enough strength to do so. A weakness in the muscles will result in poor form and slower running. This reminds me of the book, Explosive Running, by Dr. Michael Yessis. In his book, Dr. Yessis talked about form problems, their causes, and provides strengthening exercises to correct them.
It also reminds me of how Arthur Lydiad (as interpreted by Ron Daws) scheduled strength-building hill workouts early in a training cycle so the runner is better prepared for the training. I think Jack Daniels might also use strength workouts early too, although on the track–my copy of his book is packed away so I am unable to verify that.
As I continued my marathon of carrying 26 sheets, my right arm fatigued slower than my left. By the end, I would do two carries with my right arm for each with the left. Being stronger and using better form with my right arm prevented it from fatiguing as fast as the left arm.
As both arms got tired, my form got worse and my control suffered. I had increased risk of damaging both the sheets of drywall and myself. I did end up with some minor dents in a few of the later sheets–I survived basically unscathed.
The obvious lesson for my running is that being strong allows you to run longer, faster, and with better form. This should also help prevent injuries because as your form gets sloppy, injuries are more likely to occur.
I knew all these things before but having first-hand experience in a different context–one where my strength, or more accurately, my lack of strength, was more obvious–helped make those points so more obvious.
As a Daws disciple, I believe in running hills and doing a set of form drills to help strengthen your legs. I should also do core work, although I seldom do–my running would benefit, however.
November 24, 2010 § 1 Comment
Steve Runner, perhaps this generation’s Dr. George Sheehan or Jim Fixx, talks about spreading the good news in his latest podcast entitled New Media and the Art of Running Evangelism. Steve has always said that runner should, maybe even have a obligation to tell others about the benefits of running. It is easy for non-runners to see running as purely as exercise.
Runners know that in addition to the great physical benefits, running provide mental, social, and perhaps even spiritual benefits. Nothing can turn around a bad work day like a quick nooner–even 2 or 3 miles can release the tension and rejuvenate my mind so I can make a fresh attack on problem.
Since moving to a new area, I’ve made a few casual friends but all the close friends that I do things with, I’ve met on runs and/or races. While I tend to be slow to make friends in most social situations, I have found that the commonality of running makes it easy for me to bond with someone while in motion.
This brings me back to Steve Runner‘s push to spread the word and how it relates to this blog. I tend to post about my performance which is natural. It is an important part of my running and is an easy, perhaps cheap, way to get some posts in. But really it is over-emphasized in my posts. Every run I see something new, have a new reaction or insight or, even if somehow the run is blandly routine, I take pleasure in the running ritual that’s been a common thread throughout my life for the last 26 years.
So with Steve’s thoughts in mind and hopefully my own increased effort to actually post, I will post more on the pure joys of running instead of the numerical analysis of my running.
November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment
October has been a month of transition for me–I finished the Salomon Autumn Trail Series mid-month and have not scheduled any other races although I may try to sneak something in.
My final race in that series was a stinker–I had been sick the two days before it and would not have run it if I did not have a streak of running all previous 7 editions of it. I found out later that dental problems cause my illness–a good chunk of one tooth had broken off. Not sure how I did not notice. Once I got a filling, I felt better.
The fear with no races planned is that I will find it too easy to let up. So I’m pretty satisfied with my monthly mileage of 84.6 miles at an average pace of 8:23. That falls to 77.3 miles at 8:09 pace if I throw out warm-ups and a walk-jog I did with a fellow runner I bumped into during a Sunday long run.