Monday, July 27, 2009

Adopting proper form is no joke / Training week 7/20-7/26

In five years of serious running, few challenges have been greater than working to correct my form. This is a huge undertaking--one that will take a long-term effort--because it requires constant focus on how I'm running. You can drift off mentally or else you'll go back to your old form. I'm not really sure how my efforts are going. All I can say is that I'm trying!

I've been a slight over-strider and a heel-striker for years now. While it may make sense that a long stride would make you go faster and cover more ground with less effort, it in fact does not allow you to do any of that. It actually makes you more susceptible to injury and less economical from an energy consumption standpoint. You want a shorter, quicker stride and for your feet to hit the ground right beneath your body. You also want to hit the ground with your forefoot and then allow the foot to go through its natural motion.

With the stability shoes I've been wearing, running with proper form is next to impossible because the heels are so built up that you can't help but heel-strike. Realizing that my current efforts may be in vain so long as I remain in stability shoes, I have ordered some neutral-cushion shoes and will start working them into the mix with the overall goal of going neutral all the way. I ordered a pair of Saucony ProGrid Triumph 6's (along with a really nice yellow Brooks technical tee). Stay tuned....


While I'm thinking about it, here are two pretty nice write-ups:

Ohio Sports & Fitness - "In the Long Run"
Chagrin Valley Times - "South Russell Runner Wins 100-Mile Race"


I had a pretty strong training week, logging exactly 80 miles with some solid efforts with my hill repeats and track intervals. I did my hill repeats on Tuesday, running three hard intervals on Chagrin Boulevard, followed by a hard effort up the super-steep Main Street hill in the village and a few other hills on my way back home. Living in Chagrin Falls, I have access to a lot of great hills--some long and gradual and some steep and short. There are few flat areas in Chagrin Falls to run.

I headed to the track on Friday for what I planned to be 5x1600--each under 6 minutes. As I was feeling pretty fatigued after my fourth repeat, I ended up doing 4x1600 and 1x800 at 5:49, 5:50, 5:56, 5:57 and 2:58. Friday's workout was 10 miles total.

On Saturday I ran 17.5 miles mostly alone in South Chagrin Reservation. I ran with the South Chagrin/Southeast Running Club crew through 7 miles, but no one was sticking around for extra miles so I went solo for the final 10+ miles. It was pretty humid and started to rain when I was done.

On Sunday, I got to 16.75 miles in Solon with the Southeast Running Club. Despite not being on top of my game physically, I had a very good time as we had an excellent turnout and everyone seemed in good spirits despite the anxiety of some as the Burning River 100 is now less than a week away. Physically, I'm not sure what was going on, but I just felt kind of tired, flat and winded. I think the hard effort on Friday, combined with the 17.5 miles on Saturday and the fact that I'm still probably not 100% from Mohican, left me not quite 100% on Sunday.


This week is going to be hectic. Between working full-time and having the responsibilities of a husband and dad, I have to find the time to mark a 6-mile section of the Burning River 100-Mile Endurance Run course. It's the section from the Polo Field to the Harper Ridge picnic shelter. Fortunately, Ted F., Tom A., and a few others are going to join in on the action as we mark the course on Thursday morning and evening and potentially on Friday morning.

Now in its third year, the Burning River 100, a.k.a., the BR100, is a point-to-point course run in the greater Cleveland/Akron area. Many are surprised by how beautiful the course is, mostly because Cleveland/Akron has been mistakenly branded as an ugly area when the total opposite is true (our region has never gotten over the fallout from the heinous river fire of '69--a real branding/PR problem). Take it from a guy who has lived in 10 states over the course of his life; the land in Northeast Ohio has character and there are areas that are breathtaking, many of which are on full display at the BR100--steep gorges, rolling hills, peaceful wooded areas, meadows, overlooks, rivers with tons of birds including bald eagles, the Sound of Music Hill, etc. You see wildlife everywhere. And our parks? What else can I say except they are exceptional and the envy of many other cities. Our trails go for hundreds of miles. Maybe that's why we are a hotbed of ultrarunning, and many of these parks and trails are on full display at the BR100.

The BR100 starts at historic Squire's Castle in North Chagrin Reservation and ends in downtown Cuyahoga Falls. It goes through the beautiful Cleveland Metroparks, Brecksville Reservation, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Metroparks Serving Summit County. There are some decent hills to contend with and the course is fairly technical in areas with rocks and roots. The first 13 or so miles are on road. If it's going to be hot, I'd go out fast and cover the first 13 miles aggressively. The last 10 miles are mostly flat--just when you need easy terrain. I did the BR100 in 2007, finishing sixth overall, and it's an awesome race with excellent organization, supportive volunteers and a strong ultrarunning culture to back it up.

This year's Burning River 100 features a very strong field, including Tim Clement (2008 BR100 winner), Mark Godale (2007 BR100 winner and 24-hour American record holder), Jay Smithberger (2008 Mohican winner), Zach Gingerich (2008 Kettle Moraine winner and 3rd overall/1st American at the 2009 Badwater), Connie Gardner (winner of MANY races including top woman/2nd overall at the 2008 BR100) and Dawn Malone (top woman at the 2007 BR100). The darkhorses include well-known local runner Jim Chaney, Darris Blackford of Columbus and Ryan O'Dell of NY. Older guys who could surprise some folks with their speed and toughness include Frank Duchossois (who's had an excellent 2009 and is making his 100-mile debut) and TJ Hawk (10-time Mohican finisher and previous Mohican winner). I am sure I missed some names and apologize for the oversight.

A special good-luck to my friend Dan C., who paced me for my Mohican 100 win and will be making his 100-mile debut at Burning River.

I am returning as Tim Clement's pacer and will go the final 30 miles with him. Should be a lot of fun and I think we'll see quite a war among the frontrunners.


The goal this week is 85 miles, including the 30 miles with Tim on Saturday. I plan to hit the hill repeats on Tuesday and the track on Friday. My track workout will probably be 3x1600.

Onward and upward!


  1. Changing your stride does take time, and focus, and persistence. I am about 90% of the way there, but I still lapse into old habits at times. Good luck in making your transition. And thanks for the kind mention, although I don't belong in the company of the other names to whom you referred.

  2. Changing your footstrike is a controversial subject. Be careful and good luck. Here is a good read from the Sports Scientists on the subject: