End of Experiments – August 2020

I went into August 2020 with the idea that I would experiment with improving my running form – yet again. Plus the last week of July, I was having so much fun with my Periformis attempting to choke my Sciatic Nerve, something that I have played with before and pretty much know it takes about 3-5 weeks for me to fully recover from a bad case of this kind of fun.

Which meant that August was not going to be a great month for training and would be the perfect opportunity to experiment with different methods and models in another attempt to make me a more antifragile runner.

So how did the experiment and August go?

Actually, better than I expected.

While I didn’t get to 100 miles for August, I did get to 71, which is about 50 more than I figured that I would get when it started. Even though the lower back and upper legs bothered for most of the month, I was still able to walk a lot and managed to get 201 miles combined for August and even made it to 2,000 combined miles for the year.

My average running pace is a bit faster than July’s due to lower humidity/temps and I think a bit of improved efficiency in my stride as well.

While my running is down compared to some past years, when you combine both the walking and running, the mileage I end up doing on a weekly and monthly basis, it is pretty good for me.

Experimenting

I started off thinking that moving over to the Pose Method would be great shakes and got through the first three lessons and couldn’t run a step. The warm-up activity was aggravating the hell out of my Periformis and upper hamstrings. Not really the direction I wanted to go to say the least. I liked the drills and how the lessons were laid out, but the related warm-up didn’t help.

So I kicked around the idea of using the ChiRunning posture focuses and warm-up, along with Running Yoga, the lower back and upper hammies were happier, but still not thrilled about things.

As a result of still not feeling right, I got to researching stretches/exercises that can cause problems and from multiple sources found that many of the stretches in the Pose Method warm-up and the Running Yoga video that I was using may not work for everyone. It definitely seemed that they were not working for me.

I stopped using the Pose warm-up and Running Yoga video completely and within a few days I was running better, with less discomfort/pain in the lower back/upper legs than I had since before the Periformis attempted to strangle the Sciatic Nerve in July.

A very good thing.

After figuring this stuff out, I went to a modified ChiRunning, Pose Method and added in a bit of Running Rewired strength work, kind of experiment to see if I could put something together from the three different philosophies into something that would work for me. Especially, since none of them on their own had been the answer previously and that didn’t seem to be changing this time either.

The biggest problem for me with ChiRunning is the magical thinking that I can run without using my legs all that much. Gravity and abs doing most of the work with the body along for the ride, just does not compute in my world and is the road block that I run into every time I attempt to use the Chi Method. It is a me problem, but one that I cannot seem to overcome.

Unfortunately, the Pose Method in the pull phase of the run engages the hamstrings and this does not work for me. My hamstrings have had issues for several years (lots of tears, strains and tendonosis of some kind or another. Which means that the more I use them the more discomfort I end up enduring when the mileage gets much beyond 5-6 miles. So the Pose Method was not the answer I was looking for.

This all seemed pretty logical to me, if something is not working try to find something or modify things to where they work for me.

What Worked?

However, both the Pose Method and ChiRunning have pieces that I believe will help me become a better and more resilient runner.

ChiRunning – The ChiRunning focus on posture and the warm-up works well for me. After doing the warm-up activities I feel ready to either run or do a workout. The focus on cleaning up my posture is something that I feel is a strength of ChiRunning and will help me more than anything else I have tried. Compared to the start of the month, I am not as hunched over when I am running and while the legs still have some work left to do regarding getting things moving forward, I have made some progress there as well.

Pose Method – Focusing on the stance phase of my running has improved my ability to land more under my hips versus the heavy heel first landing that dominated my running before.

Running Rewired – The body work and strength sessions are in line with what works with my body so far. I am not jumping in over my head with the number of reps that I do of a particular exercise and am focusing more on quality than quantity. However, I am feeling a difference in how the body responds after a couple of weeks of doing the workouts consistently. I really forgot how much I dislike Burpees, even if they are great for me.

The reality is that

While neither ChiRunning or the Pose methods of running were the answer to improving my form, I am able to take something from each of them, along with the Running Rewired stuff and other sources to continue to improve my running form slightly and hopefully make me a more antifragile runner moving forward.

At this point in my life…well after all the stuff I have subjected my body to over the years, I don’t believe that any one philosophy or running improvement program is going to be the complete answer for me. There has simply been too much damage to different body parts for me to change things based on what I read in a book and attempt follow in videos.

All I can do is take the things that actually do seem to work, continue to use them and disregard the stuff that does not.

At this point, I know that I have too many bad habits, miles, injuries and if I am honest a lack of real motivation to stop running completely and then come back super slowly over the course of several months of reduced running to that would be required to actually change how I run.

Yes, I did really did re-look at the MAF method again and just shrugged my shoulders, knowing that I would not do the heart-rate training long-term and the diet recommendations do not fit into my current life, no matter how much it might help me.

For now, I will keep attempting to run smarter, train better and working towards building a more resilient body that will help it better endure some of the worst points of my wonderful running form.

Actually, August was a more successful month than I thought it would be and hopefully in another week or so, the Periformis will just be one of those memories that make you go mmmm, how I can I avoid that damn thing next time.

At least my posture will be better, but I have a feeling that if one of my running partners were to see me running down the road that they would still recognize who it was pretty quickly.

Yep, we are all experiments of one and I gotta believe that I am at least on the right path – for me.

Now to get back to building a base, training for a fast for me 5K and then build an even better base for next Spring’s racing season.

2021 is going to be a great year – we gotta believe!

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