A Strong Economy


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.


4 responses »

  1. Reading your stats made me smile as I thought of my own ventures outdoors. I think you should add temperature to your stats, for my reading pleasure 😉 haha.

    Miles: 5 (walking of course, it takes me a long time, but I’m doing it!)

    Terrain: smooth, sunny sidewalks that wind around and over fingers of the nearby river

    Wildlife: one armadillo digging his nose in a neighbors lawn, a rigor mortis raccoon, a turtle diving in a ditch/pond, two egrets near the mangroves, and one large, disgusting, flattened snake in the middle of the road that scared me to death

    Weather: 72 degrees, clear and breezy

    • Good for you, Anna! The walking is probably good for your back. Your weather report cracked me up! I don’t know what I’m going to do if I have to run in 70 degree weather! I’m already sweating so much it stings my eyes! I’ve been running earlier so it’s not so “hot.” July in Bavaria is unpredictable. Like Anchorage in some ways. Could be pouring rain, could be frying eggs on the sidewalk. I’ll add the Franconian weather report–just for you!

  2. I can just picture you bobbing up and down as your run, looking like some olden day farm woman churning butter! How do you land on your feet, push off, etc. I think my very poor form kept me from being much of a runner. One person told me that I looked a bit like a “crazy” person when she saw me running down our path in the woods. I switched to jogging but ended up as an avid walker. Hmmm, can a walker be avid…or just kind of lazy?

    I love your log, I am learning about running, about the German countryside and more about you and your determination. Do you have to use the inhaler after you run or only just before you start out on your journey? Just checking on you! Keep it up, this is a good trip.

    • I’m learning a lot. With long distance running, you want your foot to strike in a heel/toe manner, or both at the same time. Running toe first is for sprinting. I found that I am an underpronater, so the outside of my foot tends to land first. After some trial & error, I finally found the perfect shoes. Though now I need larger ones! As for the inhaler, I take two puffs before my run. If I forget, I end up feeling I can’t breathe properly. If I am wheezing after my run, I’ll take another puff. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I can breathe.

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