Falling Into Your Run

My mom tells me that I skipped the whole crawling and walking thing.  As soon as I was able to stand, I started running.  I don’t remember if this is true or not but it makes sense.  Walking is essentially controlled running.

If you watch kids when they are first figuring out how to walk, they lean forward far enough that gravity pulls them into a fall.  They bring one foot out in front of them to stop the fall.  The process continues with each step.  I’ve thinking about this ever since a friend turned me onto Laurie Anderson’s Walking and Falling in high school.  So, when we run as kids, we simply give into gravity a little bit more than we do when walking.

The ravages of socialization and sitting in desks lessen our ability to let gravity take us into a run.  For adult women, it can be even harder because we start wearing shoes that lift our heels high than our toes, which actually shifts us into that falling position constantly.  We learn to fight gravity by leaning back.  We have to make a lot of effort to run because leaning forward and letting gravity take us has become unnatural.

As an adult, I found running difficult and just so not fun.  Fortunately, I discovered Danny Dreyer‘s Chi Running.  I relearned how to take the effort out of running by coming back to how I ran as a toddler.  It took some time to trust that I could work with gravity without falling on my face, but once I did, running became more enjoyable.

Whenever I work with clients on their running form, I have to get them used to this same feeling of controlled falling.  It is so satisfying to see when they get it and to hear that their knee or hip pain has subsided, because they are working with gravity rather than fighting it.

On December 15, Spitifire launches Ready, Set…Run!, an online program for runners.  The program includes:

  • Why and how to warm up and cool down from your run
  • Techniques to speed recovery
  • How to prevent muscle stiffness and tightness
  • What women need to think about that men don’t
  • Cross-training tips for runners
  • Resources to improve running technique

For more information and to sign up, visit the Ready, Set…Run! page.


The Lesson of the Monster Hunter

Stop Fucking Playing It Safe

Ok, cursing in the subtitle is not my style but…

Fuck it!

I’m channeling the Monster Hunter here.

Are you playing it safe with your workouts?  Do you do just enough to say you did something?

You’re weak!

Leave it all on the trail, the road, the floor, the field.

Are you backing off on the yoga mat?  When the sensation of pain comes do you back off?

Yellow Belly!

Soften.  Go inside your pain to unravel the mystery it has to teach you.

Do you give into other people’s demands on your time and sacrifice what you need to do to stay healthy and happy?

You’re such a pussy!

Take back that time.  Your peeps will respect you more for it.  Plus, they cannot be happy and healthy if you aren’t.

Do you hold back your emotions because you think you’ll seem weak?

Fuck that!

Let it out.  Scream, cry, break something, sing, dance, whatever.  Holding onto that shit is just going to make you ill.  You’re human.  Revel it that.

Do you feel riddled with guilt if you enjoy eating too much?

You dainty pansy!

Enjoy the bounty that we are given.  Eat your fill of what nourishes you.  Heap praises on whoever cooks your meal, especially if that’s you.  Share the wonder with as many people as possible too.

You must do these things to be a brave and strong monster hunter.  If you hold back from life, even a little, a monster will smell that on you. It doesn’t matter what you call that monster or whether it is within you or outside of you.

It will press you because it knows you will give ground.  You already have.

It will keep coming at you until you’ve backed yourself over the edge of the cliff.

Live life in all its glory and all its suffering.  You will radiate so brightly that you blind your foe.

You will know when to press forward, when to stand your ground and when to drop and roll, so that the monster will wear itself out and give up.

This is a lesson I am still learning from the Monster Hunter, Benjamin Mufti.

When in doubt about what action to take, I ask myself, “What would Mufti do?”

We honor Ben’s memory this weekend at:

Tne Ben Mufti Memorial 5k Run/Walk
Sunday, December 4th
Picnic area 24 in Rock Creek Park (next to the Carter Baron Amphitheater and the Tennis Center).

Cos is $25 for charity (+ a nominal service charge for online registration).  There will be no race day registration.

Register here: http://www.racepacket.com/calendar/frace.php?fid=77

Triathlon Training Pirate Style

A Take On Ben Mufti’s Traithlon Training

  • Get many tattoos to learn to laugh at pain.
  • Set an extraordinarily high goal f
    The Jolly Roger of Barbossa's Crew, which was ...

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    or yourself.

  • Chart your course well.
  • Taunt any and every athlete you encounter with your obviously superior abilities and looks.
  • Hoard equipment and shoes.
  • Flaunt your booty so all may admire your treasures.
  • Bury some of your treasure in various locations.
  • Become a master at charm.
  • Attack your adversaries without warning.
  • Laugh heartily as often as possible, especially at your own jokes.
  • Fuel your training with huge meals and heavy drinking.
  • Celebrate your victories by gourging yourself or eating something that requires signing a waiver.
  • Break hearts and take no prisoners.

Mufti Memorial 5K Run/Walk

Sunday, December 4th
Picnic area 24 in Rock Creek Park (next to the Carter Baron Amphitheater and the Tennis Center).

Register online or in person at the Northwest Sport & Health (4001 Brandywine St. NW)

Cost is $20 for charity (+ a nominal service charge for online registration).

The cost will go up to $25 on Monday November 28th. There will be no race day registration.

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Barefoot Running Consciousness

Since I’ve been on the Mississippi Gulf Coast these last few months, I’ve hardly worn any shoes. The only shoes I do wear are my Okabashi flip-flops.  The only time I wear them is when I have to walk on hot concrete and asphalt or go into a public spot, like a store or restaurant.  This morning it occurred to me how much more aware I am of where I place my feet since I’ve been barefoot so much.

I was out for one of my beach runs, but I was on a stretch of the beach I hadn’t run on before.  Some of the obstacles on this new stretch of beach were the same as on my usual stretch–dead marine animals, sharp bones, broken glass, reeds, the odd household item.  Other obstacles were different–holes made by marine birds going after something tasty hiding in the sand, shifty spots and miniature cliffs in the sand, remnants of sand castles annihilated by their creators.  I realized how running barefoot on a beach requires different levels of attention and proprioception. How profoundly does this impact the body?  Can it affect mental health as well?

I have to use my eyes to see what’s way ahead of me.  Am I heading toward the wet sand close to the water?  Am I in the tracks of one of the ATVs or trucks that prowl the beach?  What is that big object ahead?  Whatever it is, I need to go around it.

I also have to use my eyes to see what I am about to step on.  What’s a vinyl record album doing out here?  Right, Katrina.  Dead crabs, even the little ones, are sharp.  Fish vertebrae and bones are extremely sharp too.  Ok, don’t want to trip on that hole.  What lives in it? What if it comes out?  Seaweed, eeuuhh, slimy.

In between what my eyes see just in front of me and out in the distance is the changing landscape of sand textures.  Wet sand is more firm, except where’s really loose.  Dry sand is shifty, except where it’s packed down.  Some areas slant at large degrees toward the waves.  Other areas remain flat.  Based on visual perception of the upcoming surface, my body prepares to make the necessary adjustments to stabilize itself.

What my eyes miss, my feet certainly do not.  If am about to put my foot down on something potentially sharp, then my body shifts so I do not put the force of my full weight on it.  The message from foot to brain is so quite and my body’s reaction so involuntary that I only realize what happened afterward.

My feet capture the attention of my whole body. When I think I might step on something unpleasant my gut tightens and I move more slowly.  When I move through soft, cool sand, my shoulders relax and I move more playfully.

My run this morning has certainly peaked my curiosity.  I want to see if there is any research on barefoot running and its affect on brain function, proprioception, or even stress management. Maybe the experts speaking at the New York City Barefoot Run on September 24 would have some insight.

If you are curious but not up for a full-on barefoot run, try going without shoes and socks, as you walk around your home. Notice what you can sense with your feet.  How hard or soft is the surface?  What temperature is it?  Does it move as you put your weight on it?  Then notice if this changes your attitude or what you think about.

Leave a comment on what you discover below this post or on the Spitfire Facebook Page.  Tweet with hashtag #barefootspitfire, if you prefer.

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