Today I went out for a training run. Last night I watched some old Sage Canaday videos on YouTube addressing anterior pelvic tilt, and adjustments you can make in training to improve your lower body range of motion.
I run with a short stride and am not big on overstriding or butt kick drills, so my legs don’t kick particularly far back in my stride unless I’m really hoofing it (e.g. hurrying across a street or after a city bus), and then my stride kick naturally lengthens back. However, running with that kind of power is personally kind of tiring. And a good deal of that currently has to do with my hips doing the classic runner’s tilt forward, aka the anterior pelvic tilt.
I wanted yesterday to work on tipping the hips back into alignment, running taller, and seeing about generating more of a kick back on my stride. I decided to work on it in this morning’s run.
Quickly, I discovered that the kick back is a bit too contrived in my current range of motion… but that trying to do so led to a productive form improvement: My foot naturally drove back after contacting the ground, generating in turn more forward momentum in my stride.
Throughout the run I consciously made this effort to drive the foot down and push the foot back, in turn driving my momentum forward. I don’t think my leg kicked back that far, but my stride definitely got longer and more productive right off the bat.
This did shrink some as it was rather hot outside and my focus switched to just moving at a minimum of excess energy to complete the run. But Stryd showed my form power had also slightly decreased, a positive sign of efficiency. Heat aside, the run itself did feel better than previous runs.
I mention all this as an example of how I put easy runs to use.
I don’t consider my work break runs or easy runs “junk miles”. To me, junk miles are runs without a specifically beneficial purpose, that wear you out more than benefit you.
Previously, most of my Chicago miles had a practical purpose: I transported myself home at least in part by my running. So to some degree I needed to run them regardless of how I felt.
That’s not the case in Vegas, since we here drive everywhere. If I go out for a run, there’s got to be a good reason I’m doing that and not just cross training. It does wear on you to run, and I’m over 40 now, so I need to get a return on investment from my runs.
I started work break runs because a) I easily could, and b) it helped get me in condition for more serious running once I ramped up training.
Now that I’ve started Indy Marathon training, these work break runs can provide extra fitness in addition to my base training runs in the morning. But so can reducing them to a walk, especially now that it’s getting hot in Las Vegas. Why continue to run them?
Well, I’ve now gotten to the point in my experience where I put these easy runs to use as I mentioned above. These are the situations where I work on a form adjustment, on increasing my cadence, emphasizing my planted foot drive, driving my knees, etc.
If anything, the work runs are perfect for this in that they’re only 8-13 minutes long, less than a mile or only a bit more than a mile, and even if I’m having a tough time, it’s over in short order. Whether or not I’m adding fitness and chops by taking them, I am getting the practice and experience of implementing these adjustments and seeing how they work, in small doses. I have plenty of opportunities to practice plenty of adjustments, without risking or sacrificing my health or training in trying to do them in a longer training run.
Sasha Pachev may have done them to keep himself from feeling too sedentary. But I find the work break runs are useful to try and practice various adjustments in my form and practice. They’re hardly junk miles in that respect.