25km Conversation with My Body

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December 1, 2008

Rico: Left Arch, we had a good 10K yesterday. No joint pains! Do you feel like running long today? Say, 2-3 rounds of my 12K bike route? I just want to see if we have the stamina for a something close to marathon. We can also continue practicing your midfoot landing...

Left Arch (LA): Non-responsive

Rico: Don't worry. I will slow down if you feel anything and stop if you can no longer take it. I will listen to you. I owe you my running life, remember?

LA: I love running with you, but I get scared of your ego at times. Ego is obsessed with running fast even if he knows it scares the life of me. Sometimes I wish I was as strong as my brother Right Arch, so I can feed Ego what he wants.

Rico: Sorry Left Arch if I let Ego rule us at times. I promise to do my best to rein him in. I don't think he is bad; his energy just has to be channeled to doing good. By the way, I met this woman in a party last night. She does yoga. She told me that some yoga positions can actually develop the arch. Isn't that wonderful? There is still hope for you and me. I will keep in touch with her, and maybe even convince her to run. No, we won't do the whole yoga thing. Just the foot exercises. Let's run now.

(Five kilometers into the run)

Rico: Left Arch, how are you doing?

LA: I am not used to the pressure of midfoot landing, but I think this is something I can live with. It hurts a couple of times, but I think it's because we are still synchronizing everything. I think I will be stronger in a couple of more runs. We can still run some more, but think of me, okay?

Rico: Good to hear. I am enjoying this run. I feel light. This midfoot landing feels like tap-dancing. I used to land on my heel with a thud. This feels so much better. I feel like a velociraptor running around in Jurassic Park. Yeah, I would call this velociraptor running! Observe, I am breathing evenly through my nose, and do not feel as thirsty. I think the LSD is kicking in, and in a few minutes I will be in a dream zone again. Maybe I should call this state my blog mode. When I'm in this mode, my mind becomes crystal clear, and I seem to see the world in a fresh and positive way. I assume an air of profoundness and my thoughts pierce through in big English words I seldom use! Strange but awesome!

(In my dream zone I went back to high school physics. Force is mass times acceleration, where acceleration due to gravity is some constant g whose value I can no longer remember. The triathlon book says I must learn to harness gravity in running and use my arch and knees as springs and my bones as levers. How the hell does that work? Physics is my least favorite among the sciences but I will give it a try. You land on your midfoot and capture the gravitational force in your arches and knees. Your foot, calve and thigh muscles contract to push your bones into position preparatory to surging forward. The force generated by your muscles during contraction and the gravitational force stored in your arches and knees are simultaneously released, pushing your foot off the ground and propelling you forward at a slight angle. I am not sure if my physics teacher will be happy with that explanation, but it sure helps me imagine how I should run.)

Rico snaps out of blog mode and listened to left arch.

LA: I'm happy you have your blog mode, but while I am still in strength training, can you please think of me? I do not want you to get too carried away by your thoughts. When I'm already strong, I will carry you through 42 kilometers of Eden.

Rico: Will do, Left Arch, will do. How about you Knees? How are you holding up?

Knees: We're doing okay. We try to follow the tap dancing routine with your Archs. We bend when the arch taps the ground. We hope this action makes you feel lighter.

Rico: Good. Just don't go overboard with the tap dancing, ok? I have seen a runner tapping but bouncing from side to side like a real velociraptor. Remember, every movement has to contribute to your forward motion. Economy of movement. Efficiency.
I think left arch and knees are doing ok. Do you think we can try harnessing Quads? Quads, are you there?
Quads: Yes, we are here. Still a bit sore from Saturday's 30km biking, but ready to support arch and knees.

Rico: Quads, I want you to improve on the physics day dream I just had. You are much bigger than your cousins calves and arches. Can you take off some of the work from them? Calves had grown big and hard from handling most of the work all these years; it's time you have your own workout. This should also help us when we do the bike. In the contraction preparatory to surging forward, I want you to contract hard and slightly lift thigh at an angle that will allow knee to easily bend and the arch to land midfoot, while contributing to the forward thrust. Remember, all our effort must lead to forward motion. And do not cheat in your muscle effort. I can feel if you are not working to the best of your ability. I want to feel you contracting.

Quads: Okay, okay. Is this level of effort good enough?

Rico: Yes, I think it is okay. Don't you all feel running this way is better? There is more power yet it feels effortless. Very natural. Don't you notice that we are way past the 18km mark and yet my heart rate is not elevated and I am not running out of breath. Still breathing through nose actually. Splendid.

Rico: There is one more thing I want us to try. You probably have heard of the pose method of running. What I want us to do is very similar, but I prefer to call it supplication method. Lean forward as much as you can to avoid drag, but without having the feeling that you will topple over. This is in deference to the will of the wind and the power of gravity. Bow your head slightly, at an angle where you can see the earth that nourishes you, appreciate people and your surroundings, and be able to look up to your Creator in praise, thanksgiving and humility. Combine this lean with the rest of your body and limbs, and running will be your regular prayer.


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