The keyword for today was “economy;” not the kind that brings to mind unemployment figures or trillions of dollars, but running economy. Running economy means simply, to run without making your stomach slosh like a Slurpee machine.
Since I’ve never had formal training, I’ve been relying on the idea that running is something natural: that your body automatically works properly, no matter what gear it’s in. Because of this philosophy, I’ve been dancing about the countryside, flailing my arms. No wonder the farmers stare at me: they think I’m out there doing a poor version of the Macarena.
After finishing Chapter Two of The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, (an achievement which unsettles me a little—why can’t I complete this book more quickly?), I discovered I’ve been wrong in my assessment of running being just one quick step past walking.
While on a run, your motion should be smooth. You should not look as if you’re tiptoeing barefoot through a parking lot after a day at the beach. The basic idea is the more energy you expend bobbing up and down, the harder it is to actually propel yourself forward. You are working harder and getting poorer results.
My goal was to run for fifty minutes without my stomach glugging. I practiced good running posture, while focusing on core balance. I kept my legs going smoothly, and stopped swinging my arms as if I were in a Tae Bo class.
The most amazing thing happened: I ran better. My perceived exertion was much lower than previous runs. I found I had to move more quickly to keep up my heart rate.
When things took my attention away from the running, like the dead frog in the road or the crows circling overhead, I would start bouncing again. But when I focused on what my body was doing, there was less vertical movement and more of the smooth horizontal propulsion, which delineates runners from joggers.
It might take a while to un-learn my bouncy, faux-running style; but I’m hoping each run takes me closer to a less fluid stomach and a more fluid run.
Miles: Monday was my day off. But I had so much energy, I cleaned the house–without a bad attitude. Amazing! Tuesday 5 miles
Terrain: my favorite hilly run to the neighboring village
Wildlife: two ducks, one frog (possibly dead), a council of crows laughing at me from the trees (and eerily circling over head—they might’ve been wanting the frog), and one old lady with Nordic walking poles, which are extremely popular here. No vehicles at all in the early morning.
Overall feeling: bliss.