Monday, February 18, 2013

Of Running Crampons, Heel Strike, and Short Shorts.

As I've recently written, my commitment to run the Pocatello 50 this spring - knowing full well what that entails after running the beastly inaugural in 2009 - has had me actively seeking out winter vert here in Sun Valley.  Those runs have dominated my recent posts, and I was going to give RJ readers a rest from these sessions, until something from the above pic from Sunday's outing caught my eye.

If you look past the Pioneer Mountains in the background, the wondrously lonely corduroy, and my favorite winter running tools - the Kahtoola KTS crampons - you'll see what can only be described as a full-fledged heel strike (as well as stark over-pronation).  Now, I've read Born to Run, and even gave it my own tepid review here in Run Junkie - with one of my favorite titles to date: Mexican Food, "Mexican" Food, and Brief Thoughts on Christopher McDougall's Book "Born to Run." 

Suffice it to say that I was skeptical of many of McDougall's suppositions but have tried to keep an open mind, and in the name of efficiency and injury prevention have even tried over the last three years with coaching, drills, and shoe choice to move to more of a mid-foot strike.  For me, a true maximalist in shoe choice, the move to a minimalist-inspired approach was jaw-dropping even to myself.  But chronic injury can make Shinola seem like penicillin. (What else would explain kinesio tape?)  And I must admit to yearning for a return to form seen in this video from 1985 (from the post I hate Hank Dart...).  Yes. That's me bursting out of the navy blue short shorts, winning the Condor League Championships 800 meters.  Oh, the form (at least comparatively).

Drills and nostalgia, though, had a tough road to plane.  The end result after all the effort to improve my form?  An unchanged-momentum-stopping-knee-thrashing-earth-shaking-heel-strike-gait.  That's exactly what I saw in Sunday's photo, and it was a bit of an epiphany. I finally decided that that is the runner I am and that that is the runner I am going to be, so I will embrace it.  

This prompted me to fire off a tweet to that effect, which then prompted some funny and sage tweets in response - posted below in chronological order for those very many who most likely missed them.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Road Miles in St. Louis's Forest Park

The unseasonably dry - and at times warm - weather of the past six weeks has opened up the first harbinger of spring here in Sun Valley, the singletrack on Carbonate Mountain.  It's an epically early opening for Carbo, but my dog, my winter Nordic weight, and I hit the trail first thing this morning just because it was possible and, of course, to lay down an early season (if slow) marker on the climb up to the mine.

It was a bit strange, unexpectedly hitting the singletrack of Carbo just a handful of hours after I'd returned from a  work trip to St. Louis, where I always get in some solid road miles around the 10k perimeter of Forest Park - one of those large parks that punctuates the urbanscape of all well-planned cities.

I realized on this trip, though, that after many years of going to St. Louis for business, I'd never chronicled a run around Forest Park.  So after a busy day, and in the waning light, I grabbed my shoes and camera and took some photos as I made my way around the park on the gravel path, slowly letting go of the day and settling into the night.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Vert Life: "Ghosting" (Photo)

Having broken the seal on Baldy last week, I took to the Sun Valley corduroy again for a dawn patrol up and down before work on Friday.

Photo: Headlamp light-painting as I make my way up Upper College;  Frenchmans Chair and the town of Ketchum in the background.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Morning on Bald Mountain: Quad Seasoning (and Photos)

As much as I try to not let life interfere with my training, it did just that in early winter.  But with the calendar cresting into February and the beastly Pocatello 50 looming just four months away, it was time to slough off the excuses, throw on some Smartwool, and get to some serious miles and, even more importantly, some serious quad seasoning.

With any singletrack of consequence shut down in Sun Valley until at least March, this meant only one thing, a hike up and run down the local ski hill, Bald Mountain (aka Baldy).  Given the slow start to my winter training, I modified my usual route, cutting about two and half miles off by starting and ending on the River Run side of the mountain.  For those who may care:  I went up Lower River Run then over to College to the top; then down I80 to the full Olympic cat track and back down Lower River Run - for a total of 7.5 miles and 3200 vertical feet (full details and map, here).

Of course, I took my camera along to capture the spirit of the morning and maybe to entice some fellow runners on the next outing.  It really was a stunning day.

Light traffic on Lower College.
Further up College looking over the Pioneer Mountains, including
Cobb, Old Hyndman, and the very top of Hyndman.
Skinners just cresting Upper College
under a waning crescent moon.
Top of the world.
Heading down I80 nearing College.
Cruising down Olympic.