I started a thread after I got back from a CR Level 2 seminar a little over a year ago about a breakthrough I had made based on the observation of one of the instructors. Ann-Margaret Mc Killop had noted that my stride was very short because I was not extending my trail leg behind me. I began to be consciously aware of extending my trail leg on my runs, and I noted an immediate, dramatic improvement in my speed, particularly on my everyday runs. After working with that thought for a few months, I began to drift away from it, thinking that I had ingrained the new motion in my stride.
Fast forward to a race last weekend, a national championship 8K in Williamsburg, Virginia. I ran OK, not great; and afterward a friend mentioned to me that my stride looked very short. I went out the next day, and consciously focused once again on extending my trail leg behind me. Specifically, I try to remember:
Good, upright posture
Slight forward lean from the feet (ankles)
Extend my trail leg behind me
Let my pelvis rotate (Some people prefer to focus on this, but for me, it works better if I just let it
happen in response to extending my trail leg.)
Quickly get my foot back on the ground underneath me
Sounds like a lot to think about, but it’s really not, as the whole thing just flows. So once again, I’ve been flying on my daily runs, covering them 30-60 seconds per mile faster than I was going before.
The amazing think is that it seems like I am not expending a lot of extra effort. My breathing, HR, and perceived exertion may be just slightly more than in my previous easy runs, but they are all a lot less than they were on prior moderate runs at the same pace.
So my questions for the experts are:
1) Have I really found free speed, that is, a faster pace with minimal or no additional effort?
2) In the past, I found that while I was faster on maintenance runs, I was a little disappointed that races were about the same. Any thoughts on how to translate these gains to improved racing performances?