Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fore! Working On My Technique

My golf swing is awesome. And totally random. There are days I can swing sweet and pure, striking the ball with crisp precision. Then there are days where I'm lucky to make contact at all. Days when I feel like my arms aren't really controlled by, or even connected to, my brain. Random muscle contractions and spasms send the little ball sailing in random and dangerous directions, and send my blood pressure to new PRs on both the systolic and diastolic ends of the spectrum. Lately, my running technique has seen similar misfortune.

Perhaps it's a matter of over thinking things. Running form, like a golf swing, is full of nuance and odd mechanics. Like my golf swing, the more I think about my running form, the worse it seems to get.

"Keep your head still"

Great advice for both a golf swing and running form, but also a recipe for disaster when  you consciously attempt to follow through. Anchoring my head in the running space time continuum makes controlling the rest of my body akin to wrestling greased boa constrictors while dancing the samba on ice skates. It's ugly, dangerous and fascinating all at the same time.

"Bend slightly at the knees"

For a former heel striker, this feels both unnatural and slightly painful. Is a slight bend ok, or do I need to go into full Groucho Marx mode? What about downhill running? If my knees hurt, does that mean I'm doing it right, or wrong? Or maybe I only have arthritis? It's all very confusing. To quote Groucho - "A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five."

"Weight on the balls of your feet"

As a former snowboarder with trashed ankles, running on the balls of my feet feels like what I imagine riding two pogo sticks simultaneously would feel like - Awesome! Until I pile drive the ground with my head that is. Really, my right ankle is about as stable as a whisky drunk clown on a teeter totter, and nearly as entertaining. So, screw this rule! My heel comes down and bears some of the load during my stride. Anything that keeps me from leaving face prints on the ground is a good thing in my opinion.

"Relax!"

Yeah, right. How the Hell am I supposed to relax if I'm thinking about head position, knee extension and foot strike every second of the run? Not to mention all the other good form rules that I ignore, like tilting your pelvis, aligning your spine, holding your head upright and level, not bending at the waist, and keeping your arms at 90 degrees with a compact swing across the chest. You might as well ask me to relax while I juggle those boa constrictors, while dancing the samba on pogo sticks strapped to ice skates! Even Groucho would be amused.

Running is indeed golf.