Friday, May 27, 2011

Run Skills

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to have my running form assessed by my friend and newly minted coach Tina Dubois. (An embarrassing aside: I had to ask her what her last name was...Hahahah! I never paid attention to what it was, and when I was telling someone at the Cochrane pool about my "friend," I was asked, "What's her name?" as Cochrane is a small town. My response? "Ummm, I actually don't know her last name, but I haven't needed to!" Eeeeeeep. Heh-heh-heh!)

Tina's assessment was an AWESOME experience. If any of you have ever had your swim stroke videoed -- you know what I am talking about. What you think you are doing is not at all what you are actually doing. Hahahahahah -- or let me rephrase that...what I thought I was doing, I wasn't.

The session began with Tina filming me running on the treadmill. Next, we sat down and reviewed the video clip, frame by frame. After looking at the video, Tina made an educated guess about running injuries I may have had, and pain I might frequently experience. The accuracy of her observations piqued my interest immediately. You know how those fortune tellers are so good at reading people? Hee-hee! It was like that! I was thinking, "How can you tell? Does my running form really indicate that? I don't see anything so funky on the video!"

She explained the nuts and bolts of running -- what a lot of people end up doing compared to what they are trying to accomplish. A number of pictures punctuated our discussion -- really illustrating her points.

For anyone who knows me, I have a hard time sitting still and not talking, and it took all my willpower not to interrupt....Well, Ok, I did interrupt and ask a few questions. Hahahaha! I was that kid in class who would squirm in her seat and raise her hand in the air to answer questions.

For instance, I wanted to make Tina understand that the pace I had been running on the treadmill while she videoed me was a "jog" and that I run faster than that, and that it is an awkward sort of warm up pace. She smiled and said, "We are getting to that..."

And sure enough we did. She showed me frame by frame how long my foot would be on the ground during the running (or my excuse of a jogging) cycle. Then she explained how having a higher cadence reduces that length of time, and load on the feet...This was where I interrupted and said, "Yeah, but...I was warming up, my legs move faster when I am RUNNING."

What followed next truly blew my mind! As someone who does not have natural running skills/body awareness, her next demonstration really was an epiphany to me!

She hopped on the treadmill herself and turned on her electronic metronome-thingy. She started running at 4.0 mph. She was ticking over right in time with the digital beep-beep-beep of the metronome. Then she increased the speed to 5.0, then 6.0, 7.0, 8.0, then 9.0. Her cadence remained the same at all speeds!!! WOWZA!!! This was a huge lesson for me!

Then came the fun part -- she had me do a number of exercises and drills both on and off the treadmill. The metronome was turned on, and my shoes came off. It was AWESOME. It was like the very first time I felt the "catch" is swimming (see, this memory is still very vivid as it happened so recently -- LOL.) I FELT good running -- It felt very different and easier. More effortless -- I wasn't struggling. I NEVER realized that it was even possible to run at a high cadence at all speeds.

Tina shouted out various coaching cues as I ran on the treadmill. Again and again she would catch me reverting back to old habits and would repeat the cues. The effect would be instant. I am good at doing what I am told. (hee-hee -- Mike doesn't think so -- LOL)

The culmination of the session was taking another video of me running -- a before and after if you will. It was so COOL!!! She filmed me, then we sat down and looked at it frame by frame again. My cadence had increased - my foot wasn't lingering on the ground so much! I have proof! Hahahahaah!!!

What I find so exciting about this new knowledge is that it is unlike anything I have heard of before -- the coaching cues caused me to focus on different things. Instead of focusing on how many times my feet are hitting the ground for instance...she gave me a new set of cues (much more effective for me personally) that worked straight away. Most importantly though, is that I FEEL the difference.

Awesome, awesome, awesome stuff.

And an awesome coach too -- Tina is very observant and clued in to the varying needs of an individual. She emailed me all the exercises and coaching cues after our session -- and the videos as well.

If you are interested in having a revelation about your running style, eliminating running injuries, and a greater body awareness, here is her site:


Tina said...

You are an AWESOME student, Julie! I'm so glad you enjoyed the session. Thank you so much for your kind words and assessment of my coaching skills. You were also a great help to me. :)

Lisa Graham said...

Wow, that sounds awesome! We triathletes never think of running as being technical, we just go out and do it - but the technique and form is actually really important. I've also been thinking about this lately and it's definitely hard to move away from the old habits! Sounds like you received some awesome tips and drills from your friend/coach - keep working on it!

Heather said...

I had something like that done. One thing that was pointed out to me is when you start to get tired and slump.....take a sniff, it forces you to straighten out and run tall.

1bigexperiment said...

That sounds awesome jules!

KK said...

The timing of this post is impeccable-I just saw a video of myself running and thought "boy do I need a running form coach!" I wish I lived in your area!

I especially liked how she could tell what injuries you're prone to based on your stride. I've always thought that was the key to figuring out how to eliminate nagging injuries. Yay for new running form and speed!