Last Friday evening I had my first hair appointment in four months...but that's a story for another day. After my appointment I walked around Burlingame Avenue to shop at Lululemon run some errands. After I bought a few things finished my errands I was heading back to my car but decided to pop into A Runners Mind, the local running store. Being so disappointed with the Pure Cadence 2 I decided to find out if there were any comparable shoes by other brands. The staff wasn't surprised by my dilemma; they had other customers who were in the same predicament as me. The store was filled with high schoolers getting fit for track shoes but I managed to try on a few pairs. Well actually one pair that I kinda loved...
...the Newton Distance U's.
Since it was high school night all the shoe reps were there and I was able to speak directly with the Newton rep. I had actually bought a pair of Newtons a few years ago but admittedly, didn't break them in the proper way. I ran a half marathon in them prematurely; it wasn't a good experience. But this pair was a different model and I was open to giving it a try.
I ran up and down the sidewalk outside the store while the rep watched my form. The shoes felt really good, but I didn't want to make a commitment just yet. The rep recommended that I go home and do some online research on them.
He also had some advice for my running form. When he watched me run he said my form looked good except that I ran very upright (I knew this already). So he invited me to come back to the store the next day for a FREE workshop on running form. He thought that the workshop would help me learn to forward lean.
After leaving the store I immediately texted consulted with my Newton running friends (the self-titled "Team Newton Awesome"). Having received high reviews I decided that it would be worth my time to go to the clinic and spend some time in the shoes.
On Saturday morning I ran my 11-miler in the City then I headed back down the Peninsula going straight to the store. I arrived a little early and met another girl who ran with the store's running group. She also ran in Pure Cadences and was looking for an alternative to the Pure Cadence 2.
There were about 12 of us in the clinic, and they gave each of us a pair of demo Newton's to use (not brand new ones).
The clinic focused on four areas:
1. Balance 2. Posture 3. Cadence 4. Forward Lean
For the next hour we did drills like:
+ Closing our eyes and balancing on one leg + Standing in an athletic stance, in neutral spine with feet parallel to each other + Keeping our arms at 90 degrees + A Skips and B Skips (my coach has me do these before every run but I wasn't sure the proper way to do them so it was great to have someone show me in person) + High Knees and Butt Kicks + Marching in place, then running in place, then running forwards and backwards + Leaning forward from the ankles
Here's a few videos from A Runner's Mind's Facebook page:
The Forward Lean was something that I conceptually understood but didn't know how to implement. For this drill we worked in pairs, leaning forward from our ankles while our partner caught us by the shoulders. I could feel how doing this engaged my core. While this drill helped us grasp the concept of the lean, we still weren't getting how to lean + keep our chest up and look forward while running. So the rep has us:
+ March in place + Then run in place + Start running forward + And do one - just one - butterfly stroke
This seemed to do the trick for me, but it did feel weird. I felt like I was about to fall on my face, but the rep said that that should be my lean at the minimum. Having finally experienced what the lean is supposed to feel like, it's something that I can really work on now.
But having to think about posture, lean, arm position, not over striding, etc, etc, etc can be overwhelming. So it was stressed to us that working on your running form is something that can take a long, long time. It requires a lot of patience and practice. We were also advised that improving form alone will not make us faster. We also need to work on strength, speed work, endurance, stride length (keeping our feet under us and not over striding), cadence, etc.
It was also recommended to run barefoot on a grass or track for .25 mile once a week.
I got so much out of this clinic, and because the Newton's felt good this happened:
The next day I ran a very short 3-miles in them. It was love at first run!
Its one thing to read and watch videos about running form, but another thing to actually have someone show you. But since not everyone has the opportunity to do so, Newton has an entire series of running form videos on YouTube. I had watched most of them before, but having an instructor-led, in-person class really helped me understand how to actually implement the practices.
Ironically I'm actually signed up for a fee-based Chi Running workshop in two weeks...I have a feeling a lot of the same points will be covered. More practice for me I suppose.
What do you do to work on your running form?