#22 No Pretty Runners
Run Strong, Run Fierce
I was just at my local YMCA for a swim technique lesson for my daughter, taught by my oldest son. He has years of experience and can see errors and give simple cues to communicate improved technique. However, there was one cue he most likely wouldn’t think of that I know all too well. I called my daughter over and said, “Don’t be pretty, be fierce, be ugly, be strong. No more prettiness. The race is not won based on how pretty you are in the water, it is won by the first one to hit the timing pad.” She jumped back into the water and immediately her stroke was fixed. My son’s cues could work once she let go of trying to look pretty.
I am surprised by how often I actually see “pretty running”. It looks bouncy with smooth slower movements. The sad part is that the runner wastes so much energy trying to look pretty instead of using that same energy to run forward faster. Often the runner is not using their glutes to run forward. Instead, they are lifting their knees and reaching forward with the foot landing in front of their hips. It probably feels pretty and energetic. However, it is not fast. It may look good for a photoshoot but won’t get you to the finish line ahead of your competitor.
A few months back, a runner I work with sent me a video clip of her stride/gait and we talked over the phone. I gave her a few cues to think about while running. Her next run was 30 seconds per mile faster and it wasn’t any harder. The difference? Well, she changed her purpose while running, from looking pretty to moving forward with strength.
This is not just a female tendency, trying to look pretty. I notice males running throughout town also trying to look good while running. I will let you in on a secret. You already are impressive. You are NOT on the couch eating ice cream wishing you had energy and motivation. You are running and becoming more healthy. You are strong and accomplishing.
Be a STRONG runner. Make each movement help you to run forward. Have a slight tilt forward from your heels (not waist), push off with your foot, pull your foot to the same height as your knee, swing your leg forward, drop the foot letting it land just under your hips. At times while you run, think of the muscles you are using and flex them, using them to their fullest extent and increase your body awareness. If this is all too much to think about, just run forward with strength forgetting about any passersby.
In your next race, endeavor to be a strong fierce runner, using all your body to touch the timing pad first.
“Don’t be pretty, be fierce, be ugly, be strong. No more prettiness. The race is not won based on how pretty you are in the water (or on the road/trail), it is won by the first one to hit the timing pad.”
This 30-day series is a quest for me as a writer, coach, and runner. I promise to write about running for 30 days in a row. In doing so I intend to gain in knowledge and expression of running and daily life. My hope is that we all grow together.