Monday, July 25, 2011

Strike a POSE

There's nothing to it!

On Saturday afternoon I attended a POSE/barefoot running seminar given by Drew Wallace of Upstream Fitness at my CrossFit gym. For those of you who weren't on the East Coast or who may have a very short memory, Saturday afternoon temperatures hit over 100 degrees with major humidity. You might say that even when I'm having a good time this kind of weather turns me nasty. Add in a little bitterness due to some cross-scheduling of Girls Night Out with a previously planned and pre-paid seminar, and a little grumbling about my least favorite physical activity in the world and you have the makings of a miserable afternoon.  And yet, somehow, I enjoyed myself.

I really dislike running because, let's face it, I suck at it. But when you think about it, how can someone be so bad at something they've been doing naturally all their lives? The problem is that from around the time running became about more than a way to get from the swing set to the slide to the monkey bars to the bubbler and back again, I've really had no use for it. I don't run so much anymore as simply move my body forward in a slow plodding manner in my best imitation of people I've seen jogging.

But because you can take running with you everywhere you go, and because even with my slogging pace, I have found that running can be a great way to burn calories, to work big muscles, and to provide an overall cardiovascular workout, I want to be able to do it better. By better I don't necessarily mean faster or longer, but merely with less disdain and with the hope of long-term satisfaction rather than joint injury. Barefoot running may provide that path.

I've got hurdles: not the kind on a track, but the mental kind.

I grew up in a house with a diabetic. If we had a coat of arms, I have no doubt that Protect Your Feet would have been emblazoned across our dog-hair-covered shield. Foot injuries lead to infections which lead to death. Seemed simple enough. As a result, the bottoms of my feet are as smooth as a baby's butt. This is nice when you rub your feet on someone else's legs, but as you can imagine, this is not such a good quality to have when trying to run on those feet.  (And the bottom of my someone else's feet are like 12 grit sandpaper, so it's not as if he cares.)

In February I hurt the ball of my left foot. I don't know exactly what I did (tuck jumps) to it, but it never healed completely. This became evident in the "after" film of me running – oh yes: there was video! After the seminar, some exercises, and biomechanical explanations, we were filmed running barefoot (or with shoes again in a barefoot manner as the instructor explained that this it when it seemed harder to keep good form). I was able to adapt my stride striking the pavement with my right foot, but I still struck the ground with my left heel – possibly in an attempt to protect my old injury.

Hot pavement.  Did I mention that it was sunny, over 100 degrees F, and had been for three days? Oh yeah. The pavement was HOT.
Nothing Vogue about it. 
Barefoot: In Body or Mind

So, here's the important part whether you're shod in something that allows your feet to spread out and feel the impact of the ground or barefoot: heel strikes are bad, unnatural, and send shock waves through your body when running. So don't do it. Land on the ball of your foot allowing as much of your foot as possible to hit the ground, but only kiss the ground with your heel. Your body should be upright with the weight bearing leg directly underneath it while your trailing leg should be near to passing through to land when the rest of your body gets there. Don't bounce. Keep a good rhythm and relax.  

My favorite part of the exercise was running with a clip-on metronome.  I'm going to get one and continue to practice my POSE-ing at increasing rates of speed.  Who knows? With enough practice, I may actually be able to pick up some speed. Maybe.

Posture – Rhythm – Relaxation.


Cheryl said...

Impressive, my friend. Impressive.

Lynne said...

Can you believe I gave up a GNO at Tapeo on Newbury St. to run in 100 degree heat? What the hell has happened to me?