Back to Basics

Part C: Form and Determination.

Running well is a matter of having the patience to persevere when we are tired and not expecting instant results.
-Robert De Castella

There is one week a month where I just slow down, and I have no choice about it.  Then I have to work around the fatigue and focus on just getting it done. I suppose I could just do yoga or ride. But I want to run, so I do.

I took some extra days off last week, so I am not cutting myself any slack this week. Today I decided I needed to take a long run, having not done anything over 3 miles for several weeks. Oh, it was tough; 4.1 miles, and I didn’t take an easy route. Four hills on the way out–which I got to run down on the way back ūüôā –and another three on the way back. What was I thinking?

Well, that is when determination comes in. I am truly not¬†sure how I kept going the last mile, my legs wanted to walk but I just wouldn’t let them. I had decided a turn around point ¬†before I started, but I had to keep making deals with myself.

The humidity had gone down (yay!), but it was still nice, sunny and hot out. I told myself if I got to the top of a particular hill, I could turn around. But, then I would be going downhill, so  I might as well keep going. When I was sweating, if I just got to that next patch of shade, I could go back. But then it was cool and breezy, so I might as well go a bit further.  I did that all the way to my original goal; but, boy, was I glad to turn around.

Everyone has their own level of determination. And it grows with each success. A couple of years ago, I would have turned around the first time I thought of it. But by pushing myself, I know how good I feel about it afterwards. And that adds to my determination for the next time. How do you decide to be determined? The answer is in the question: you decide.
The dictionary defines determination as: The act of deciding definitely and firmly; firm or fixed intention to aachieve a desired end.

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.”
-Tommy Lasorda

Don’t confuse it with motivation, because they are separate entities. Motivation is a¬†“motivating force, stimulus, or influence; incentive; drive.” Motivation is what makes you want to ¬†exercise: weight loss, endorphins, that upcoming wedding, whatever. ¬†Determination is you deciding to get out of bed and go running, and then making yourself do it. Or deciding on a 4 mile run and completing it. No matter how slow the miles might have been.

Now, you are determined, and keep running those slow miles. How do you make it through? We all develop our methods, or we stop. I have one friend that loves aerobic HIIT sessions, but gets bored running. She doesn’t run that much because of it. I never get bored.

First, I love the outdoors and the miles pass under my feet as I gawk at the pretty pond or the marvelous shape of that tree. Second, I write. ¬†Specifically today, this post and then a story I am working for my other blog, FictionWriterwithablog (shameless plug, there). That works very well to get me up the hills: while I am working on a particular turn of phrase I don’t pay attention the hill.

And when that doesn’t work, I focus on my form. ¬†I love running with the sun behind me so I can see my shadow. Running with good form that I can see reflected in my shadow encourages me.¬†There are several benefits to working on form. First, you are much less likely to strain something as when you are tired form is usually the first to go.

Have a sore lower back after running?¬†¬†Strain is placed on the back when you don’t keep your tailbone tucked, which makes the core support you instead of your back, particularly up a hill. It’s the reason that I do so much core work, since I am prone to lower back issues. And usually when I am tired and going up a hill, I have to make sure my tailbone is tucked. This also makes you use your thigh muscles more going up the hill: thus my drills.

Another issue I have found recently is my arms. I don’t know why, but I find I am developing “zipper arms:” my arms cross my midline (or zipper) while running. This is a waste of energy, plus the twisting motion is not good for any part of your torso. ¬†A good fix for this to cup your hands loosely, and turn them up (like you are catching water with each hand) or turn them down. Personally, I find turning them up is better. If I turn them down it tends to make my elbows stick out to the sides, which puts more pressure on my shoulders with each swing. ¬†I cup my hands with my thumb and forefinger (my yoga background is showing), with the palm facing up. That generally straightens my swing out–I just have been having to fix it a lot recently.

As I have said before, everyone finds the balance for them that makes good form. But there is a basis to work off of that will help you find it; and prevent injuries while you are finding that form.

The fastest way to hate running is to hurt yourself. ¬†And there are definitely things you don’t want to be doing:

thanks to running.about for the quotes.