"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Urban Technical

Continuing the series of workouts to do when bored...

Every time I've done a race on the Superior Hiking Trail, I've heard someone say, "I'm from the Twin Cities. We don't have anything like this there! How could anyone train for this?" I was one of those people the first time I ran there; one can run hills and trails in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but training to run on tree roots and rocks seems impossible at first. There are a few places where one can find a short section of "technical," my favorite being, when the St. Croix River is low, one can run on the sand and rocks along the shore in Afton State Park (and there's plenty of hills nearby). In winter, running in snow makes for a good workout. There are a few other ways to approximate technical running when one is stuck in a metropolis, however.

Broken Steps

Arthur Lydiard was a big proponent of running stairs, but I always thought running hills was always preferable. It does have one challenge that hills do not: one cannot choose how long a stride to make. This is somewhat like running on a technical trail, where one also cannot always put one's foot where one wants (including the race director's backside). Because one can get into a rhythm with evenly spaced steps, I like to increase the challenge by marking some steps with chalk (or placing a coin or small stone on them) and not using those steps; occasionally, one has to make an unusually long step and that is something one also has to do in trail running at times.

Railroad Tracks

Legality and safety issues aside, railroad tracks also can substitute for a technical path. One of the first questions people face when running where there's tree roots is: do I step between the roots or do I step on them? Beginners always step between, ground being familiar territory, but this also means having to lift one's legs higher with every step to avoid catching a root and falling. Running on top of the roots eliminates the high steps, but requires balance and agility. What I see top runners doing is taking comfortable-length strides and letting their feet fall wherever that happen to land. Running on railroad tracks lets one try this; the faster you run, the less able you are to place your feet exactly where you want them, so you learn to let your body adjust to whatever balancing one needs with each step.

Running like a little kid

Try running on a curb. Try not running on the cracks in sidewalks. Run in mud and sand and puddles. Play.

1 comment:

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Run in mud and sand and puddles. Play.

But if you track that mud into the house I WILL SMACK YOU INTO NEXT WEEK, MISTER!