Monday, December 7, 2015

Running "Like an Old Lady on a Frozen Lake"

The marathon - especially Boston - is so riddled with meaning and metaphors. The most prominent of which is probably, "Life's a marathon, not a sprint."

I got a new one on Saturday, at the first charity team group training run of the season. Here I am with the others running for Dream Big! because we believe in the power of girls' sports.

Before our run, we heard from coach Rick Muhr, with words of encouragement and counsel - mental, physical, and a little metaphysical.  One thought, and new metaphor, that stuck with me, was on the importance of running NOT like a long-legged gazelle with great leaping strides, but "like an old lady on a frozen lake," with a measured, quiet, shuffling stride that, however counter-intuitive, turns out to be the most efficient way to propel oneself for 26.2.

It's all about efficiency, Rick told us. And though it seems like the way to go faster and further is with a great, reaching stride, the name of the game for marathon success is efficiency - i.e., no wasted effort. And with that long, leaping stride sets one up for striking first with one's heel, and actually throwing the breaks on with each step, even as you are propelling yourself forward. It's also a greater muscle strain for each stride. More difficult to sustain. Heart rate too high. Cadence too low. Each step too loud, too much effort, and leaving one more susceptible to injury. 

The goal, said Rick, is to be at a cadence of 180 strides per minute, three per second. Quiet. Efficient. Heart rate relaxed. Unhurried. Conservative. Like you're driving with the low-fuel light on even when your tank is full. No wasted effort. And then, the metaphor I carried with me for our first training run along the race course (until just shy of Heartbreak Hill) - to run like an old lady on a frozen lake.

There is power and potential in what we might, at first blush, or based on flawed stereotypes or cultural norms, dismiss as weakness. Which reminded me of the #LikeAGirl campaign unleashed at last year's Super Bowl.

A great inspiration and reaffirmation of the importance of Dream Big!'s work, empowering girls through sports. 

No comments:

Post a Comment