Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Confession: I'm A User

Hello. My name is Lisa and I'm a user.

That got your attention, didn't it!

No, I don't use drugs - never have, never will (and proud of it!). I don't use steroids. I hardly even drink. If we're talking addiction, I think the closest addiction I have is to fitness and eating good food!

Seriously though, while I was running in the park this morning (yep, beautiful weather again!), I was thinking about all sorts of different things, like usual, and realized that I use other runners. A lot. I doubt I'm alone on this, too. I have always loved people watching, and I guess I take it to another level when I'm running.

More times than not, my runs are solo. I'm not a member of a running team or club, I don't go to Nike Run Club or any of the other group runs led by running stores (although I have thought about it). I used to run with a group of people from work, but now if I run with others its usually just one or two people. I don't mind running on my own, I kind of like it, actually, but I do still find myself using other runners out on the road anyway. How is that person swinging their arms? Do they strike the ground loudly with their foot or do they sneak up on me? What is their breathing pattern like going up that hill? Do they speed up on the incline or downhill? Are they listening to an iPod? The bridle path or road? Do they clench their fists? What kind of gear, if any, do they have on them. What is are they using for fuel? Do they land on their heel or the ball of their foot? How is their posture? How high do they lift their knees?

Okay, so you get the idea. I watch other runners to see how they run and to try and improve my technique. Not long after I started running, a friend of mine who had been a x-country runner in high school, gave me a few tips that I continue to follow now and I often hear his voice in my head: pick up your speed when you're going uphill and swing your arms hard. Keep your hands below your elbows (okay, I'm not so great at this one when I'm tired or tense, but I try). And above all else, don't go out too fast!

While there are some hard and fast 'rules' to running, a lot of what makes someone a good runner really depends on them. It depends on a person's unique physiology and it's takes time to figure out what works best and whether we like it or not, that sometimes changes over time. Maybe this is one thing that makes running fun. You can always learn from yourself and others and become a better runner.

What is one tip you learned early on in your running life that you always follow? Or, what is one tip that you like to share with others that you think is key?

Run for Haiti


Molly said...

I am a solo runner too, but I joined a weekend running group a few months ago for the heck of it. And now all I do is look at everyone's feet! I've noticed that half the runners are forefoot strikers, and the other half are heel strikers. I'm working on doing more of the former, so it's fun to check them out!

Anonymous said...

My running mantra is "engage your core, relax your shoulders, don't clench your fists."

I'm usually too focused on myself to watch other runners, but that's a really good idea! I'll have to start doing that--there are definitely enough of them at the lakefront.

ALFIE said...

LOVE all the wonderful running info here on your blog. I just started my "couch to 5K" training program, and am really hoping to get serious about running this spring/summer.

it's so exciting that you guys are from the good ol' mitten :) i do love the city of detroit, but i would be lying if i said i wasn't just a smidge jealous of YOUR location!! NYC has long been one of my favorite cities! i hope to visit there soon. it's been way too long!

thanks for your kind words on my blog. i'll be reading here often!

VABookworm87 said...

Hi! I'm visiting from SITS :o) I tend to analyze people too, but it's just a side effect of being an athletic trainer. I'm not much of a runner. I recently got one of those Nike ipod things and I've started the walk to run program to get me back into it :o)

Robyn said...

I think this "user" behavior is perfectly acceptable. I'm a solo runner but I have to admit when I do the Sat group runs my competitive side sometimes gets the best of me and I think, I cannot let that person beat me. I'm always amazed though when I see a pack of runners like the Team in Training people talking through their run. How do they do that?

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

I was told early on in my running journey to stop tensing my shoulders so much. I still do it sometimes, but I try to remind myself to relax them.

Alisa said...

It's so weird, I used to ALWAYS run alone and now I hardly ever do. Sometimes I just want to run alone but having a plethora of running partners is pretty fantastic.

Alisa said...

PS Everyone tells me to relax my shoulders and arms but I just can't, my hubs calls it "bunny arms."

Cheryl said...

Also a "relax the shoulders" girl. I used to look like I had squirrel arms when I ran. Other good advice: lean into your run to speed up, don't lunge..the only way to run faster is to RUN FASTER...If you can't talk when you're running, you're going too fast (unless you're doing speed training, of course!)..

I used to love running in NYC when I was in my 20s. Of course that was a LONG time ago ;)

Visiting from SITS..

Ashley said...

i totally do the same thing! i run by myself and i often look at other runners to see what they are doing! I think the thing that has helped me the most is to keep good posture and relax my shoulders. I find that when i do that even though i feel like i'm not going that fast i am actually going faster than before.

SueMac said...

I don't think I consciously check out people while they're running... but I do notice lots of cute running gear on the trail! When I ran cross country in jr. high, my coach kept telling me I just needed to relax, not necessarily any part of my body, just relax my mind. She said she could tell I over analyzed everything I did.... and once I relaxed my time got better!

Kristin said...

Hi Lisa, I found you on the Complete running blog network. I love your blog! I just started a running/fitness blog with a few friends in January to help me stay/get motivated. I'm addicted to a healthy lifestyle, too and love to see/encourage others to exercise and feel good, too! Anyway, as far a tip to give others..hmmmm? I guess I'd say don't forget to breathe. Sometimes when running with friends I get to talking and forget to breathe properly. Next thing I know...Side stitch!! Good post!

Stop by Runnning Buddies and say Hi if you get a chance!

The Laminator said...

I think deep down we all do this on one level or another. We all learn from each other right, so essentially everyone is in on our science experiment. I've certainly learned my share of things watching how others run.

As for advice...I wish people would learn how not to run with music all the time. You learn so much from listening to yourself and getting sensory feedback as you run that you owe it to yourself every once in a while to just go out and listen to what your body is telling you instead of using so many methods of distraction. It really helps you to feel more comfortable with your body as you run/race leading to vast improvements in speed, form, breathing, etc.

That's all. Great post!