Thursday, October 29, 2009

The thinking athlete

I was watching the video of Jess' race last weekend, and it struck me how differently the top 10 or so girls ran from everyone else. Their technique was effortless, smooth, efficient - you get back to where Jess is running (and she is DAMN fast, so don't think I'm mocking her), and the girls are choppier, looking a little looser. Part of that might have to do with the slower people working harder, but watch that video and see how the black girl in front just floats over the ground. Beautiful to watch. After seeing that video, I asked Jess what her team does for running form drills - not much, apparently. I know a lot of running coaches think that running is such a natural motion that if you try to change how someone runs, it'll totally mess with them.

I don't know how I feel about this - I sort of feel like every motion can be improved with conscious effort. This could just be stemming from my gymnastics days ("Straight legs, Aleksandra! What do you think this is, the beginner class?" thanks, Youlia, for teaching me how not to coach), when you had to always be conscious of what your body was doing, since you're judged on appearance, but even doing endurance sports, running, biking, skiing especially - I am always conscious of what I am doing, attempting to move deliberately. Some might call it over-analytical. When I ski, I spend about 95% of that time thinking about my technique. Even on a bike, I find myself thinking about pedaling smooth circles, dropping my shoulders. How much do you cyclists out there think about technique? I'm not talking mountain biking so much, but the road stuff - do you just pedal? Do you runners just run? Or do you think about it?

I know Jess would disagree (being the poster girl for just doing stuff as it happens), but I think to be the best at your sport, you always have to have a subconscious feeling for what your body is doing. Or does that take away the fun? I feel like I have more fun when I feel that I am doing something perfectly, but that could just be the type A speaking. Or maybe that is why I like to coach.

Did cavemen think about how they ran?


Colin R said...

Sounds like a lucrative business opportunity, coaching neaderthal's how to run.

I don't run unless there's a bike on my back, so I don't know much about that.

I do know that no one disregards technique in cx and mtb -- but they are talking about bike handling and the posture required for it, not just pedaling.

Maybe I need to think about pedaling more. Oh wait, I already own a fixie.

Dave Kvam said...

smooth and effortless running happens because technique (upper body and lower body), foot drills, dynamic motion and flexibility is all trained and practiced. I only say this as a runner whose coach had us do it every day. :)