How I improved by ten seconds per mile

In one run, I took ten seconds off my per mile pace. This isn’t an epic run, it was all over in under half an hour.

When I started out, it didn’t feel like it was going to be a fast run. I was hungry, I could have easily bailed out and just eaten dinner instead. I’d been up since 05:30 (the joys of having a toddler), and done an ab workout first thing. After an ordinary day checking tasks off of my list with my girl in tow, I was in my usual place by 18:30. That usual place is falling asleep as I chill out with the little lady getting her ready for bedtime.

So, when I finally scooped her into bed and changed into my running kit, I wasn’t expecting any progress. Maybe this was part of the trick, who knows?

Timeout. The other day, I read something about running technique. I pinned it and thought I’d forgotten about it. There were a few tips and tricks but the one that stood out was how you land on your feet. More to the point, where. What that point of impact is. I had thought that my shock absorption was good – certainly better than it used to be. But when I paid attention during my previous run, I was landing way too far towards the back of my foot.

For this run, I decided to stay towards the front of my feet.

It felt totally weird.

Because this was a sort of a bonus run, one I could have flaked out of, I’d decided to give myself a free pass. It was okay for this to just be about ticking the “I did a run” box, instead of making progress, either in distance or speed. I just ran, I didn’t push myself.

The strange thing, is that it actually seemed slower than normal. It was cold and raining, so I had a jumper and light waterproof on – so I couldn’t see what my watch was tracking my run as.

All of the sections where I normally want to stop and walk didn’t bother me. Not one. It’s not like I was loving the run, but I wasn’t exactly hating it either.

I felt a bit silly, not springy, but taller. It was strange to readjust the rest of my body around that one tiny change. One tiny change that is the foundation for the whole exercise.

I realised more than half way around that I was feeling less pressure, less tension. I started thinking about all of those times I’ve heard or read people talking about form. How form is more important than anything else really. This is all I was thinking about for the rest of my run – because I had a free pass.

When I finished, I saved the run on my watch and did some pull up training. It was another five minutes before I went inside and synced the run so I could see the details.

I couldn’t believe the result!

I don’t know what this means for my achey calves tomorrow. Don’t worry, I have foam rollered. I’m pretty hopeful for my knees and I’m even more excited for what this might mean for my progress.

If I can save ten seconds per mile without trying, and when everything was wet and slimy, that’s pretty exciting!

My whole point is that they’re right – form is important. I’m not saying do as I do, but don’t be afraid to try things out and see what works for your body.

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