For the last couple of weeks, I’ve agonized over how much fitness I lost while I was sick.  I was tired and I was stressed. So I spent so much energy worrying “Can I do this run? And even if I can, can I do the marathon? And what if i can’t do this run? Is there any hope? (despair, despair, despair)” that I was tensing up, and that always presents itself in my calves and ankles.

I realize now that what I actually lost was my form. Now, good form is relatively new to me. Last summer, when I was once again grudgingly on the bike because my calf hurt, I noticed that I was REALLY tense from my calves down… and that even on the bike with the move-y pedals, I was not moving my ankles. I started allowing my foot to flex and point, flex and point, and the ride felt totally different. I mentioned it to my friend Bethany, who said, “Huh. I wonder if you do that when you run?” And just like that, I realized that for three years and through 5 half-marathons, I’d been running without really moving my ankles. No wonder  I hurt!

Know what happens when you  move your ankles? Your form gets better. It has to. You become more efficient. You get faster. AND YOU DON’T HURT AS MUCH. At least, I didn’t. Amazing. I was basically amazed during every run in the fall of 2011 at how different I felt. Then, when I get sick, and weak, and scared, I reverted back to what I knew. I wasn’t engaged mentally, and out went my form (and my speed and my feel-good-y-ness).
But I realized yesterday, on a brief 3-miler that I really do feel finally feel better, all around. My abs are back in commission, and more importantly, my mind is tuned into my body. I’m mindful and in control of my form again. I am able to engage my core, stand taller, use my ankles, overstride less… all things that I wasn’t even really aware I’d let go while I was sick. I’m thankful, so thankful, that I didn’t get seriously hurt during the Time of Bad Form.

 

Here’s a good article on form from Running Times magazine.

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