Running, Eccentric, Exploring

I went for a 20 minute run yesterday, it was the first run of the year. Although my heart rate never went about 70% my breathing was fast and my legs got tired. It’s hard work!

With cycling having been my primary training activity for the last number of years my body isn’t used to the impact of running. With cycling, there isn’t much of an eccentric muscle contraction involved. If done correctly your leg muscles will perform nothing but concentric movements. The goal is to shorten under load and that is possible while riding a bike. With running you add in lengthening under load as each step sees you catch, slow down and propel the weight of the body. I must have done 3000 single leg eccentric movements, which is why my quads felt a lot like coal when I finished and for most of the day. Today they feel like I did a bunch of squats.

The person I was running with commented about the lack of efficiency in the way I run and also commented about the path I take. I bounce. I bounce normally when I walk and even when I’m standing in one spot. My center of gravity is always moving up and down or side to side. When I was running it was obvious that this is happening. Not sure how much energy this burns, but it’s at least 25% more effort than it needs to be.

The path I run is ADD. I couldn’t focus on running because I wanted to run everywhere. Off the rocks, over fences, up the retaining wall, over benches, whatever wasn’t in the way I was putting in the way. When I hike I try to do the same thing. Find things to jump off or onto making a game out of whatever there is to play with. It feels good to move creatively and athletically about the earth and it makes as much sense to do this as it does to run for 20 minutes. Running everywhere at once did blunt some of the physical nagging that I find with running – I find it tough to forget that I’m running and it has never been a zen or flow inducing activity. Maybe that might change.

After 20 minutes I was done, they continued to run. As I watched them leave it was clear that there is purpose in their running style. It’s flat and shuffling. From the back, the head and hips don’t bounce much, from the side you see legs moving beneath a stable torso and mildly swinging arms. It’s efficient and very clear why people don’t bounce marathons.