Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Ran With An Olympian And It Was Totally Rad

Over the weekend, I attended a great running seminar with Gary Reed, a retired middle distance runner who hails from B.C.  Among his many accomplishments, Gary is a two-time Olympian and the current Canadian record-holder in the 800 metre run with a time of 1:43.68.  Needless to say, it was pretty awesome to hear him speak about his experience and have him coach us for an afternoon! 

Hanging out with Gary Reed.

Going into the seminar, I knew I would have plenty to work on in terms of technique.  Gary showed us a few tips and made us run (ha ha - get it?) a few drills.  Some of the gems I took away from the afternoon were:

Swing your arms.  This may be obvious to many but I didn't realize this would be such a big part of running efficiently!  

Be relaxed.  Tension will cause a runner to seize up over time.  If you can feel your face moving while you're running, that's a good thing.  

Maintain your posture and focus on moving linearly.  Gary suggested imagining that you have two walls on either side of your body to help keep everything in-line.  If anything moves off that plane, you're not working at maximum efficiency.  (Apparently, my right arm was swinging out and down so now I'm focusing on swinging it in a straight line close to my body.)

Dorsiflexion is your friend.  The way I would describe dorsiflexion is bringing your toes up slightly towards your shins.  Doing this movement helps to ensure you land on your mid-foot and not your heel - which can be tiring and hard on the body, impact-wise. (You can tell when a runner is heel striking because he sounds like an elephant ... you can hear him coming from a mile away!)

Keep those knees up!  Getting your feet underneath the body faster helps to keep things springy and efficient and increase stride turnover.  All good things. 

I tried to put most of that into practice when I was out on today's 29 km trek.  The result was a really productive and efficient long run.  I ran my same slow and steady pace to ensure I could focus on my technique.  The end results: my heart rate stayed down, my cadence stayed up and I felt more energetic overall.  It was a pretty cool little experiment proving that small changes can make a huge difference.

Thanks Gary!  You're awesome.  

P.S. Gary recently started a foundation called the Reed Athletics Fund in support of Canadian Olympic hopefuls in the sport of track and field.  I'm sure it's no surprise that Canadian athletes are an underfunded bunch.  The foundation is the first of its kind and is a very worthy cause.  If you would like more info on the Reed Athletics Fund and to make a donation, please visit their website. 

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