Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Old habits

In the beginning I thought that running was something that could be separated from the rest of your life. No matter what else was going on, when you ran you could cut off everything, revel in physical movement and find a feeling of peace. The physical sensation and sense of contentment is real, but it is an illusion to think it can be isolated from the rest of your life. Nothing you do is unrelated.

Now I said something similar in the previous post but at the time I didn’t realise how important an insight it was. No action is without consequence and that is especially true of the repetitive small activities you do not even notice. The way you sit in a chair, stand upright, drive a car, walk about, they all form how you hold yourself and that in turn determines how you run. Small changes can accumulate to have a big effect.

This was brought home to me very forcibly when I was watching a video analysis of my gait. It was not a pretty sight. My feet were splayed outward like a duck and my inner ankle was at an ugly angle. The strange thing was that when I had previously had a video analysis I ran much straighter – my gait was far more neutral. So over time the angle of my feet must have changed, unnoticed, very gradually until it became unstable.

When running you follow what feels natural, i.e. the body follows the line of least resistance and then reinforces it like a river in a valley. That line must have been formed by all of my daily movements: I stand with my feet in a v shape for balance, when I drive my heel balances on the floor and my feet splay out to control the pedals, when I cycle they also splay a little, when I lie on my back they fall open, when I sit at my desk my feet rest at an angle. I don’ think I am ever straight.

I must correct my habits – get my legs used to being straight and parallel. It will not be easy because many years of bad habits have to be corrected, but I will start by being aware, sensing the alignment. When we run we are constantly told to listen to our bodies but that advice tends to concentrate on effort and pain. I no longer think that is enough – we have to feel our posture and try to maintain proper balance. We need full body sensing of ourselves in space.

1 comment:

beanz said...

welcome back - hope homework is completed successfully!