Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good Form

First off, it's been a stupid long time since I've sat down to write, and for that I apologize; mainly to myself for forgetting the cardinal rule of success: Consistency.

I've finally gotten on board the Consistency Train with running and exercise, but I have yet to allow consistency to keep me on track for the other things I enjoy, such as painting, writing, and making time for my friends.

Most recently, consistency in my training allowed me to complete my very first full marathon, the Spokane Marathon, earlier in October. Sticking to the schedule and remembering to use my body in the way that it was designed is what got me through to the end. Working, resting, fueling, and thinking. Putting it all toward my goal.

Big surprise: it works. It's all that "you get what you put in to it," "your body is your temple," "you are what you eat" stuff that so many people like to spout. Who knew it would turn out to be true?

So here I am, post marathon, feeling great, wearing my awesome new hooded sweatshirt that says, "finisher!" and I declare out loud to myself...(don't worry, lots of people talk to themselves before, during, and after running)...anyway, I announce in my runner's-high afterglow that I'm going to train for an ultra-marathon. Something more than 30 miles, a real, crazy, over-the-top challenge.

With this goal in mind, I decide to incorporate longer runs (duh) and work on getting faster. You see, I'm a bit of a plodder. I shuffle along at about a 9:30 mile pace regardless of the race distance, and when I get to the end, I'm not even tired. I know there's more speed in there somewhere, I just have to teach myself to access it.

I've gone running with the boyfriend a couple of times, and it seems to be helping since he is much faster than I will ever be (I assume).

I want to say up front that there is nothing that feels more natural for me than running. Sitting sucks, walking is too slow, hopping is awkward.

When I run, my entire body feels like it drops into place. As far as I know, I've had the same running form my whole life: standing up straight, leaning forward, arms a little low, feet hitting the ground flat/mid-foot. <-- And there's the problem.

The first time running with Don he mentions something about my foot strike, and how it would be better if I stayed toward the front of my foot. So the second time we go running I try this different foot strike thing for the duration of the run, which turns out to be around 12 miles...and I feel something pull in my ankle. Goodbye Achilles tendon, it was nice knowing you.

Suddenly, my body that feels best after a 20 mile run can't even handle a 2 mile run. I took something that works, and I broke it.

This is not to say that he doesn't have the right idea (maybe or maybe not, it's up in the air) but I definitely had the wrong idea to immediately jump on something new without a consistent history of training in that way to back it up.

And now I'm out for at least a couple weeks. Leaving me with hours of free time when I would rather be running. Sidelined by form, which brings me to my tangent about paper forms:

There are certain aspects within the daily dealings of life where I expect consistency. One of these places is on official documents. I have no idea why I feel that way when there is absolutely no evidence to support those feelings.

Today I was reminded how little attention is paid to consistency when I sat down to fill out some paperwork and promptly found myself smacked full in the face by the grotesque mis-appearance of IRS forms: daunting. ugly. inconsistent.

Now, it's important to note that I don't find forms to be inherently ugly. A sea of grayscale boxes does not have to be a sign of bad design. They don't have to be a clown-vomit explosion of color to keep my attention, or have flashing banner ads on the sides to peak my curiosity.


Where these forms fail me is the same place I failed in trying to change myself too quickly. Whoever designs these IRS forms has taken a good idea and simply gone too far. Absolutely everything is encased in a heavily stroked black box. Somewhere along the way, some helpful soul looked at the form and said, "You know, I bet that would stand out better if you put a box around it...try making it bold!"

And a monster was born.

Changing up the form (the form-form or the running form) can be a good idea, but not if it defeats the original purpose. Form should follow function.

In the case of IRS forms, the function is the transfer of information from one spot to another. Or in my case, the transfer of energy from one spot to another. My existing form was doing it for me, without the add-ons, and I bet those IRS forms were almost attractive before they got painted up with boxes, bold text, underlines, different fonts, and 'helpful' symbols.

Lesson learned.

It doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to work.


Hank Greer said...

Exactly. Do what works for you. As you get more comfortable the speed will come to you so be patient.

There are some cheap and easy ultras in the area. The Centennial Trail Run and the Pullman Winter Ultras.

Ian and Devon said...

There's that art joke, that goes "If it ain't baroque, don't fix it." I love that joke. It applies here, if you go by phonetics!

There's nothing wrong with your form. Maybe it's not "technically correct," or whatever the crap that means, but it works for you, and therefore it's the PERFECT form.

I, for one, love watching you run because you look like how a tiger would run if it could run on its hind legs.