One of the things that I worked on with Jeff Galloway during my ecoaching was some running drills.  I did cadence drills which work on increasing the number of steps you take per minute and acceleration-gliders which work on using forward momentum.  I did hill repeats to work on leg strength and prepare for running hills (not that there are many hills at Disney – it’s about as flat as a course can get).  Probably like many other runners my interest in running form initially began after reading Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. I have posted about that book before and, briefly, it is the book that really started the most recent barefoot running phenomenon.

After reading that book I purchased a pair of “more minimalist style” shoes.  I am not looking to run barefoot.  I have extremely flat feet and have always worn stability shoes.  But I was intrigued enough about the message in Mr. McDougall’s book that I researched extensively on some of the newer shoe styles along the minimalist tradition.  My research led me to try Brooks Pure Cadence.  Why? At the time I was wearing Brooks’ stability shoe (Adrenaline) and so I knew that Brooks shoes fit me (I now run primarily in Saucony Hurricanes for no particular reason except I wanted to try something new).  I have not been happy with Nike shoes in the past (they fit funny) so I didn’t think Nike Free was a good choice.  The Pure Cadence were the most “stability” of the Pure line. I went to my local running store, spoke at length with the salesperson (also a runner – always a good sign), and tried the shoes.  The salesperson did warn me to slower transition to the new shoes and not train for a race in them.  He said it might take as long as 2 years to adjust.  My plan had been to use the once a week and he and I agreed that it was a sensible plan.

Although I loved the Pure Cadence on my initial trial run, I didn’t love them as much subsequently.   They seem a little tight across the forefoot which requires keeping the laces very, very loose. And I just never felt great running in them.  I trained for the Goofy in my Saucony shoes rather than wear something I didn’t love.  Recently though – after finishing the Goofy – I decided to try the Pure Cadence again.  And a funny thing happened.  I like them much better than I did before.  I actually think that my running form may have improved from Jeff Galloway’s drills and more miles and more experience. An article in Runner’s World echoes my personal experience that most new runners heel strike:

And then today as I drove to the hospital for morning rounds, I was listening to a new podcast (new to me – the podcast isn’t new).  Another Mother Runner podcast was interviewing Christopher McDougall and, since I’m obviously a fan, I decided to give it a whirl.  It was a really interesting interview and he started talking about running form.  He mentioned a drill that he does called the 100-up drill.  I had never heard of this drill but found it intriguing.  Some chemist (pharmacist?) from the late-1800’s in England created this drill to help him train.  Not unlike a medical intern, he worked long hours and didn’t get to run outside as often as he’d like.  This was, perhaps, his version of treadmill running.  First is the 100-up Minor which is basically a variation on marching in place. And then the 100-up Major which is, essentially, running in place.  The idea is to maintain perfect form during the drill.  For those interested in learning more, here’s a link to a website that explains the drill and includes a link to a video with Christopher McDougall demonstrating it.

During the podcast interview Mr. McDougall talks about the fact that, for many of us who run for fun, doing drills isn’t necessarily something we will stick to doing.  Since we run for enjoyment, we have to focus on those drills that we WILL actually do.  As someone who struggles daily with work-family-running balance, I find it difficult to get to the gym to cross-train.  Not because my intentions are bad but because my time is limited.  The 100-up drill is something I can do at home while spending time with my kids. (Confession: I had Jessica doing the drill with me today while the boys were at Tae Kwon Do).  I think I’m going to take a personal 100-Up Challenge and see if I can see a difference.

Now that the snow is melting and it looks like I can run outdoors without fear of breaking my leg from slipping on ice, I will return to my Galloway-assigned drills.  With my April half marathon being a super hilly course in Central Park, the hill repeats need to find their way back into my training.  And instead of beating myself up over not going to the gym 1-2 times a week, I can practice my 100-Up drill at home or at work.  Let’s see how to works out!