I like going running regularly. It’s a fun sport that takes off my mind, and often takes me a little into nature. I both enjoy running by myself or with friends. It’s a different but always nice experience. Basically I like how simple it all is. I just need some shoes and a bit of free time, and I can basically do it anywhere, anytime.
It’s now more than a year ago that I started to gradually change my running style. I didn’t have any problems or so. I guess I was mostly wondering how a change would feel, and if it’s a better style for me or not. Also, I like trying out new things, just for the sake of it.
My old running style is the one that most people have adopted: The heel strike. Basically, running is a succession of small jumps, and for the heel strike technique, the first part hitting the ground is, well, the heel. The heel actually hits the ground slightly in front of the body’s center of mass. This results in a sudden impact for the body because the center of mass needs to get over the pivot point defined by the foot. The strong impact is a reason why most running shoes have a dampening sole which is especially thick at the heel. Many people including myself try to dampen the impact even further by allowing for a bend in the hip, from which you need to recover at the next step. A bend in the hip is a sure way to lose energy and speed, and certainly one of the first points a running training will point out for correction…
So for a bit more than a year now I am training the forefoot and mid-foot strike. The difference between the two is rather small for me, in comparison to moving away from the totally different heel strike. With the forefoot and mid-foot strike, the foot lands differently. As the names say, it’s not the heel that strikes the ground first. The foot also doesn’t touch the ground in front of the body, but rather just below it, which helps the constant falling-forward movement. I really like the side-effects: My torso and my head are much more stable, and the style just feels more efficient. If it really is, I don’t know (a timed run is still on my to-do list), but its fun.
Also, the forefoot strike is the natural way of running when you are barefoot. And barefoot running can be rewarding in and off itself, as I discovered again today on my little jogging round!
So I take off my shoes and socks. I find a nice patch of grass along a field. And I start to jog slowly on my forefoot. And I feel the wet grass under my feet and I take a deep breath of moist air and I slowly pick up some speed and I build up confidence that my legs will compensate for the bumpiness that is hidden below the soft grass and I turn around the next corner and I see a stance in the distance and I tell myself: “How fast can I go?”, and my legs start to spin below me and my head is floating and I feel detached, feel like flying towards the stance, coming closer and closer. There. Deep breath. This was great.
These are the little things that make me happy. This moment of floating above the grass at dusk, for a little moment believing that my legs have nothing much to do with my head, and yet being one.
This blog is my idea to carry the same experience of “enjoyable floating” over to writing: To detach the mechanics of my fingers from my brain, to decouple the effort from the enjoyment. I want to try to wholly enjoy being in the moment of writing, feeling light-headed, without constraints.
This blog shall be my private patch of wet grass where I can practice and enjoy writing, to get better over time without feeling pressured. And why not? This has already worked with jogging before.