adidas Heimo21 — thoughts on running so far

As written before I’ve been participating in Adidas Heimo 21 — aiming to run Espoon rantapuolikas half marathon this autumn and possibly also a full marathon few weeks from there in Vantaa.

This year has been exceptional for me in running sense that allergies and injuries have not spoiled my fun – and for the first time I have tried to take some serious approach to actually improve my running – instead of just jogging along like before.

Stupid thing is that getting some improvements into my technique, stamina and speed have not required really any extra efforts, but rather some discipline and thought beforehand on what am I doing and why. Not caring about my running had meant that I had made no real progress in any way during last few years – except that keeping my aerobic fitness in just an ok state.

All the information and inspiration has been in my fingertips, but I had chosen to not to see, attend and act on it — even though I do lecture to clients about similar issues and ideas in different contexts. Oh the blindness in us humans.

Besides following the program made by Joonas, I’ve been participating in Training First’s running school in Kaivopuisto – and been actively reading about running and finally tried to understand how and why to do different things. What is the hypothesis behind different actions and how can I make sure that I aim for the right goal, instead of just following through the motions.

I started reading the motivational best seller Born to run, which was captivating to read: http://www.chrismcdougall.com/. Naturally that opened up pathways to read more about Scott Jurek in Eat & Run, which is really insightful book on the life of ultrarunner as well as into the mind of someone who constantly pushes himself to define the barriers again. Similarly – as the name suggests – the book will force you to re-evaluate your diet.

Even before this – meaning for few years already – I’ve been interested in barefoot- or minimalistic running, but hadn’t really put any effort to improve my technique or take better care of my legs. I watched and learned the basics from few videos when I got my first pair of Merrell shoes — and had some discussions with my physio therapist about the subject whenever my legs would act up, but otherwise I had been a stubborn newbie and ignorant fool.

Now I finally started to read more with thought about barefoot running, proper posture and exercises to improve and strengthen my legs. I also ordered the Step by step book ( http://barefootrunning.com/?page_id=432 ), but was a little disappointed that the book was basically just had almost the same information that is freely available in the internet in different resources.

More importantly though I met Atte Kärnä in HE-Fysio and had him to check my legs, balance and give tips on how to improve my stride. He analysed my posture and balance based on how my weight was distributed on my legs while standing, walking and while doing a squat. No real wonder that he immediately noticed the arch of the foot was giving in quite easily and causing therefore potential pain in calves and knees. He also showed me really clever foot exercises ( which anyone can learn from a DVD: Footbic DVD) to train the small muscles in my feet. I was surprised that I had not heard about him before – as his exercises made real sense and really did put my legs to work in a new way. Still looking forward adding these practices to my normal schedule and see what the long term impact will be.

I got huge inspiration from watching — and later on reading more – Kilian Jornet in Summits of my Life. He is a magnificent Catalan athlete I had not heard before Aki Ruohonen pointed me to buy and watch the movie. Best few euros I spent.

If you want to read up on Kilian, see this article and then watch the movie. Watch it. You will not be disappointed, but you will want to go out for a run and train harder after it. Not for anyone else, not for any specific race, not for fame or fortune, not for fitness — but for yourself.

Did you watch it? Good.

Regarding understanding training and physiology better I finally started to read also Daniel’ Running Formula — of which our Adidas Heimo training program is also based on — and checked that the admirable bible of Lore of running still waits for me in the bookshelf. The first time I tried to read it almost killed me by being too in-depth and scientific for someone like me. But then again there it is now. Waiting.

Through googling while trying to find running co-ordination exercises and ideas I stumbled upon Jason Fitzgerald’s http://www.strengthrunning.com site and read his really good condensed thoughts on running and different exercises. I enjoyed his free booklet : http://strengthrunning.com/52Workouts.pdf as well as his 101 tips on becoming a better runner, which was only 2 or 3 euros as PDF.

Reading through same ideas and sometimes even contradicting ideas from multiple sources help me to digest the information better and actually begin to see the big picture better. And eventually to start to train better.

During these few weeks on this journey I have already learned new things about myself, as well as about my inability to follow the given schedule as numerous other things mix my planned schedules. Therefore it is even more important for me to try to understand what has been the idea behind specific suggestion — so that I can adapt that to the reality where I live.

Regarding following training schedules and different types of exercises big problem I have had for long time is with different heart rate limits. It has felt impossible to run on low enough heart rate, while my body has otherwise shown that I’d be able to run faster and still have it as an easy run.

I’m well aware of that there are huge differences in individual human beings and therefore this friday I am taking the lactate threshold and VO2max-test to get a better view to on what levels to really run. Test will be run by Training First’s coach Janne Vanhala and should be an experience. Looking forward to it.

At the moment of writing this post the sun is shining from a clear sky. Sporadic rains are part of finnish summer and just a week or so ago I had the misfortune to stumble into two different thunder storms in two different training runs.

I am trying to learn to love even the bad weather.

Still a long way to go.

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