I’m trying something new – a final Friday update. I usually have a lot of ideas and resources that I want to share with my athletes, and it seems more efficient to do so in a blog post than individual emails. This will be a loose collection of things I’ve been reading, listening to, thinking about, and inspired by in the world of running and beyond, along with a couple personal updates. Shamelessly inspired by Mario Fraioli and his wonderful Morning Shakeout.
My racing season is finally about to start. The first few months of 2023 have not been easy, running and health-wise. I seem to be on a rotating pattern of minor colds and coughs from my daughters. Then six weeks ago I crashed my mountain bike and cracked a rib. After that a chest infection set in, requiring antibiotics. I don’t know. It’s been a good time for working on indoor projects, let’s put it that way.
Nonetheless, I am excited to line up for the Brest Urban Trail 33km. This should be really fun because the race goes through various buildings in the city, including the mayor’s office! It’s a city race that tries to stitch together as many little sections of trail as possible. And stairs. Lots of stairs. At the end of April I’m going to Nantes with my family. I’m going to run the Nantes marathon. I haven’t been able to train properly, so I’m running this in “tourist mode”. No time goals, just excited to see the sights.
Spring is here! For the weather here in Brest, that means it’s 50 degrees and rainy rather than 40 degrees and rainy. Early season is a good time for fundamentals – drills and mobility, basic strength work. I’ve been enjoying reading the book Born to Run 2. It’s the long-awaited follow-up to the classic Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. This one is more of a training program, borderline philosophical. It’s extremely practical and not that scientific. This will appeal to certain types of runners, and I recommend the book for inspiration and creative workout ideas. Co-author Eric Orton has a bunch of fun movements to complement and prepare for run training. They refer to them as “movement snacks”. Why not?! His Youtube channel has some good videos on form and drills.
I encourage athletes to think about their form, and before trying to change anything too drastically, become observant. Watching others run can be incredibly informative. We all have very unique movement patterns based on our physiology. The more you become aware of arm swing, cadence, shoulder movement, bouncing vs. gliding, stride length, etc, the more input you have to find running form that is both powerful and efficient for you. As Caballo Blanco put it in Born to Run, try to be light and smooth, and eventually that will become fast.
One of my athletes, who is preparing his first ever marathon, mentioned how challenging it is to “feel your pace”, how sometimes it feels easy, and you’re going fast, and other times it feels hard yet you’re going slow. I was thinking about how we always talk about “listening to your body” while running. It takes a lot of practice listening before you can actually “hear” anything. Like with music, well-trained musicians can hear notes, intervals and chords. They practice listening for a long time before they’re able to hear the specific musical structures. Similarly, early on in running it takes a lot of practice before you know what different paces feel like. But it is a worthy pursuit!