There's Running and Then There Is Running

For the most part running is simple. Kids do it naturally. Unfortunately, as we get older we find ways to stuff it up. As adults we get pretty good at making running unnatural. My best runs have tended to be those runs that just feel natural.

It is easy to focus on the metrics of time, distance, heart rate, cadence and whatever else you can put a number on. It is possible to force technique, perform drills and run hard or easy without it hitting that natural sweet spot. For the last couple of years that sweet spot has been pretty elusive to me. It also seems hand-in-hand with reduced training tolerance, poorer overall results and more injury problems. This isn't a chicken or the egg situation either. The combination of all is so entwined you cannot effect one aspect without having effect on the others.

Without this natural feel to my running it is like I am missing the most important ingredient. Therefore, this is where my training leads me. When my running comes naturally, I can run further and faster. My races go so much better. Running is a release from stress and rarely become an obligation. I enjoy chasing the numbers, but it is the feel of a great run that is so much better.

This does not call for a drastic change in training. In fact, the training plan as written down remains the same. The difference is to keep an awareness of how I am running. During the easier runs I will make a concerted effort to maintain good form, and ensure there is that snap and spring in my stride. On the faster side I will be more concerned with chasing the feeling of relaxed speed and keep away from forcing or muscling my way through the workout. That does not mean it is an excuse to back off a bit. Gaining that natural feel to all paces should lead to faster running over all. It is the difference between developing false fitness versus true speed.

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