Stacking

The last 2 runs I’ve focused on biomechanics. Recording all the data in Strava, I can see that the training effect is kicking in as my heart rate goes down and my speed increases. I’m becoming more efficient. It all just feels like practice…practicing movement in a certain way – becoming more efficient with more practice. The more efficient you are, the longer it takes fatigue to set in.  That’s the plan anyway.

In skiing the proper biomechanics are to stack up: the concept is to stack your skeletal system so that it absorbs the most energy, keeping your head over your core and spine and your knees slightly bent (leaning slightly forward). Everything is aligned just over the center of your feet all the way to the top of your head.

While running, I’ve been mentally focusing on my hip flexors, pushing my hips just slightly ahead of my core – it keeps my momentum forward in an efficient way. Upper body very still, eyes looking about 8 -10 feet ahead on the trail; monitoring the trail 2-3 feet ahead for obstacles. If I feel my hips drop back, I consciously move them slightly forward, no matter uphill or downhill, just keeping my hips slightly forward.

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One strange thing that I can’t figure out is my left hand gets colder than my right. I’m not sure if it’s because my watch is ever so slightly cutting down blood flow or if I have more vertical oscillation in my left hand than my right and the air is making it colder. I literally grab my left hand with my right sometimes to warm it up. I didn’t have gloves running in the rain today … I would have put them on if I did.

I was thinking today that proper biomechanics are a lot like good design. There is an efficiency, a lack of the extraneous… there are a lot of parallels. When design works well, it ceases to be something detached from the experience. The experience and the artifact merge. In many human activities that use a constructed artifact – playing a musical instrument, riding a bicycle, driving a car… badly designed artifacts become a hindrance to the experience. There is a reason that well-designed objects are expensive – it takes more care to design, construct and maintain them…thinking about musical instruments out of tune or a badly tuned bicycle. It’s the same with biomechanics … except the artifact being tuned is the human body. The most amazingly designed system that has ever existed.

The forest was beautiful today. Rhododendrons and azaleas are blooming throughout Forest Park. Explosions of red, purple, pink and white. Although it was pouring rain at times, the canopy is so dense that there are long stretches of trail that are perfectly dry. I have a camera that I may start carrying – it’s a Nikon Coolpix aw110 that we bought before we went to Peru. I think I could attach it to my waist. There are so many beautiful shots that I could take if I only paused for a moment. We’ll see.

One of my favorite books is The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell.  In particular how the oral tradition of storytelling retold over time begets legends and mythology. Sometimes just with a image – and there is always a story behind the image. This is always the image I think of:

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And when she’s older, we’ll tell her the story of how she got to the top of that peak.

What each must seek in his life never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality for experience, something that never has been and never could have been experienced by anyone else.

– Joseph Campbell

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