Showing posts with label stealth runner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label stealth runner. Show all posts

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm getting better at running with minimum noise, and at gliding

I'm practicing being a stealth runner by having my feet hit the ground with less impact (no slap, slap, slap sound as my toes hit the ground). I did, though, hear a new noise that I hadn't noticed before -- a scraping noise. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I shuffle when I run. The scraping noise was from my shoe sliding on the ground. That means I was really shuffling; I wasn't lifting my feet more than a half inch or so and was sliding my shoe.

I also practiced gliding when I slowed down for my walking breaks. I found myself taking several seconds to transition from running to walking, and I covered about 50 feet during that time. That is 50 feet with little energy spent. I calculated that with two walking breaks per mile, over a 13.1 half-marathon, I would have 26 glides, and at 50 feet each, that would be a quarter mile that was almost free in terms of my body using energy to cover that distance. That, hopefully, would give me more energy to use at the end of the race.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jeff Galloway recommends becoming a stealth runner

I was reading this morning from Jeff Galloway's book Running Until You're 100. He recommends that we run with a light touch such that we don't hear our foot slapping the ground. He said that a light touch is the way to overcome a tendency to bounce. Running with a light touch is part of his "gliding" procedure.

He recommends running with a shuffle to conserve energy. Raising ones foot high off the ground takes energy. "As long as you pick your foot up enough to avoid stumbling over a rock or uneven pavement, stay low to the ground. Most runners don't need to get more than 1 inch clearance, even when running fast." I'm a natural shuffler and have always run with a shuffle.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The science of gliding while running

In my Friday posts, I discussed the concept of acceleration/gliding (ACG) that is taught by Jeff Galloway in his book Running Until You're 100. I thought I would briefly explain the science behind gliding. If you're not into science, feel free to skip this post.

Let's assume that you're running at your desired pace. You have stored in your body energy that is due to your movement. This energy is known as kinetic-energy. If you finish your run and quickly stop, the kinetic-energy will go to 0 because you have no movement. The energy that was in your body, however, has to go somewhere; it doesn't just go "poof" and disappear into thin air. Your body absorbs the energy as heat, and you probably begin to sweat. In effect, you paid a price for that energy by applying stress to your body to get it to move at your desired pace, and then you waste it by quickly stopping, causing the energy to be dissipated in the form of heat. That isn't a very efficient way to run.

Jeff Galloway is suggesting that instead of stopping quickly, or even going quickly to a slower pace, you take a few steps to gradually slow down and thus allow your kinetic energy to be dissipated in the form of forward movement of your body instead of heat in your body. This is a more efficient method of running, and that means that you'll go your distance with less effort.

Now, let's look at it from another perspective. Sir Issac Newton, in the year 1687, published three laws that describe motion. His first law states that "A body at rest remains at rest, and a body in motion continues to move in a straight line with a constant speed unless and until an external unbalanced force acts upon it." In other words, a body in motion wants to stay in motion, and a body at rest wants to stay at rest. Newton's first law is also called the Law of Inertia. This is the reason why, if your car stops quickly, your body tries to continue moving until it is restrained by your shoulder belt, or if you're not wearing a belt the dashboard and windshield. It is also the reason why you are pulled back into your seat when your car quickly accelerates from a semaphore light. If you are running and quickly stop, your body wants to continue moving forward.

Jeff is suggesting that we take advantage of your body wanting to continue moving at your faster pace, the momentum of your body, and let that momentum pull you forward until the kinetic energy is dissipated. You do this by taking a few steps to slow down to a stop instead of quickly stopping.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Acceleration-Glider Drills

Jeff Galloway recommends acceleration-glider (ACG) drills to conserve energy and thus be able to run faster. The idea is to take advantage of the momentum of your faster pace to "glide" as you gradually slow down. The gliding takes less energy since you're using the momentum from your faster pace. They would be appropriate for going down hills and for slowing down for walking breaks, water stops, etc. Jeff recommends that the drills be repeated several times once a week. He cautions, however, that we shouldn't sprint during the drills.

Let's assume you're running and want to slow to a walking break. Rather than making a relatively quick transition to walking, gradually slow down and let your momentum carry you as far as possible. By doing this, you will cover more distance with less expenditure of energy.

I've done this unintentionally in the past. I usually take about two steps to go from running to walking, but on occasion I've let myself go farther as I slowed down to a walk. I literally felt my body push me as I slowed down. I'm taking walking breaks every half mile, and I'm going to use ACG to transition to the walking. Also, my two-hour and longer runs involve a couple of large hills and a couple of small hills, and I'll use ACG to go down the hills without a lot of energy being used. Of course, I'll eventually be able to run my normal pace down the hills as my legs and knees gain strength.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Allen, the stealth runner

I noticed yesterday that most of my running is now stealth running with little noise except for the swish swish of my nylon pants and my hat brim scraping my nylon jacket.

I'm hoping that this means that my running is now a bit more efficient. I can use some extra energy at the end of my runs :) I think the reason for the change is that I may be developing better form as my body gets stronger. Because of my stiff joints, I've never had great running form (one runner told me I had my own style). Jeff Galloway, in his book Running Until You're 100 explained it this way. He was describing his "Cadence Drill" in which one attempts to take faster steps.

"In the process of improving turnover, the body's internal monitoring system coordinates a series of adaptations which make the feet, legs, nerve system and timing mechanism work together as an efficient team".

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My running slap, slap, slap

I mentioned in a previous post that I usually make a lot of noise when I run, due to my toes hitting the ground hard and causing a slapping sound. I'm a slap, slap, slap runner. I also mentioned that once in a while, I run with very little noise; I referred to it as stealth running.

I've been experimenting with with my form to see if I can induce the stealth running (in the past, it has occasionally occurred without me doing anything to cause it). I've found that I can induce it, and I'm practicing doing the stealth running. In my normal running, I hit with my heel, and my foot then hits the ground with a slap sound. In stealth running, I hit with the flat of my foot, and since my foot needs less movement to allow me to toe off, less noise is generated.

I have to be careful, though, that my attempts to be a stealth runner don't lead me to injury. Our bodies have their "natural" style of running, and attempts to change that need to be slight, such that our bodies are slowly led to a new form. Abrupt changes, can in my humble opinion, increase the stress on our bodies.

My motivation for running with less noise comes from two sources. First, an article in Runner's World. The article reported on an interview with Bill Rodgers. The author asked Bill to run at his marathon pace. The author commented that he (the author) was struggling to keep up with Bill, and Bill was gliding along with little noise. Second, in his book Running Until You're 100 Jeff Galloway describes a "gliding" technique of running that takes less energy. I'll discuss that technique in a later post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Slowly getting better running form

Last week, while I was doing my two-hour run, I noticed I was running with very little noise. I usually make a lot of noise when I run, because I hit the ground hard with my heel and then my toe slaps the ground. This time, it seemed like I was gliding along. Instead of my usual slap, slap, slap, I was running in stealth mode, and I noticed I was hitting the ground with the flat of my heel instead of the edge of the heel. I noticed the same thing today, almost no noise as I ran -- just a swishing as the brim of my hat brushed my nylon wind breaker. During this stealth mode, I felt relaxed, as if I was floating along the path. It only lasted a few minutes and then I was back to my slap, slap, slap, but it was nice while it lasted.