Monday, May 21, 2012

Brightroom gets useful

A couple days after most races, that dreaded email shows up in my inbox that says "Your Race Photos Are Now Available!".

Even though the race is over, I always get a few butterflies in my stomach fueled purely by vanity as I click through to the pics.  

"God, I hope the camera really does add ten pounds". 

Basically my goal is to not look like a Yeti.

It's sometimes achieved. 

Lately though, I've been thinking there are some other thoughts to take from Brightroom.   Thoughts like "What the F is up with my form?".

There are all sort of advice that you can read about having good form.  Keep a quick cadence, drive your knees forward, try to minimize vertical motion, don't twist too much, and keep your elbows at 90 degrees.

Improving your form can help prevent injury and make you a faster runner. 
It'll make you look like these super fast looking dudes with great form:

After looking at my race pictures online, it's pretty clear I'm doing at least 78% of it wrong.  Granted, most of these bad pictures are near the end of the race when my form breaks down.  But that doesn't mean it's not a problem.

Let's take a look at exhibit A from the Eugene marathon.


Unless I was trying to push the person to the right out of my way or run the slowest marathon possible, I'm pretty sure it's time to stop twisting and flailing my arms around.

But that's not the only problem:


You know that part about having a short but fast stride and minimizing vertical motion?  Guess I missed the memo on that one too.

So I've decided it's time to do something about it.  I'm not sure I'm going to get much faster without trying to iron out some kinks anyways.

When I run, I've been focusing on keeping a short and quick stride.  This has added benefits of helping my right knee that's been sore for a while.  One of these days, I'll start doing high knee and butt kick drills too, but only after my neighbors agree not to have me committed when they see me doing drills outside their door.

I've also been doing some very minor strength training.  Really minor like pushups and situps before bed.  I've also made a deal with myself that if I go to the gym, I have to pick up a free weight, even if it's for 30 seconds.

I'm not 100% sure this will make me a better runner, but it can't hurt, right?

And if it does hurt, I can go back to my Batman meets Chubby Checker style of running. 

Have you ever tried to improve your form?  With any decent results? 


  1. First of all...those really are awesome photos you chose to illustrate your point :) Second, yes, I have tried to improve my form and with success. Twice. The first time was when I was in college. The second time was this winter. After running with a wicked hai-karate heel-strike for a little over a year, I taught myself how to NOT do that anymore. I still run like a wounded water buffalo, but I no longer heel-strike. :)

  2. All of my pictures show that I have no idea how to keep my hands on their proper side... I definitely look like I'm boxing, especially at the end of a race. In good news I heel strike far less than I used to and am transitioning to more minimalist shoes so that makes me happy.

  3. Hmmmm, I generally don't see the point in changing form if one is not injured. I guess you could say it will prevent injury or something but you've been running for >1.5 decades uninjured with your form so I don't really see the point in changing it. However this new thing about your knee- honestly maybe it's just from increased mileage combined with harder workouts. One thing you could try is to go to a running store where they video your hips as you run, my understanding is that by seeing if one of your hips "drops" lower during your stride then this could be from weak hips/glutes and could cause various aches/injuries that can be fixed with some gym time. You KNOW that I am a HUGE advocate of cross-training, CORE WORK, and strength training.
    PS I know people think Runner's World is cheesy but they have some good and not too time consuming core/hip/glute/strength routines geared towards runners (obviously haha).

  4. haha this was great. I started form training for the exact same reason, I hated my race pictures! I learned that I heel strike and take too long of a stride with my feet barely coming off the road. I now run drills several days a week. Not only do my legs feel much better and I have a lot fewer minor injuries, I run faster and stronger, too. And those race day pictures are starting to look a lot better.

  5. These are the sexiest pictures ever! Perhaps Glamour Shots should start doing brightroom...

  6. I was/am a twister as well. Unfortunately I only do it on my LEFT side. So my ways to correct my form: I carry a water bottle on my left hand. I hate it, it drives me crazy but it causes me to focus on not swinging my arm. I also do stride drills once or twice a week (high knees, skipping, butt kicks) and swear that really makes a difference. Best of luck! It's so hard to change it up, but worth it in the long run!

  7. I've tried to make changes to my form... it's a hard habit to break/correct/set. So the best things are to make small changes and focus on one at a time. Or if you are focusing on a few, do a mental run through every few minutes of "Okay am I taking huge bounds instead of strides? Am I forefoot landing? Am I dying? Are my wrists/hands up and down? Oh look, thumbs up to myself! I'm getting it! Am I making zombie face? Are my arms crossing over?? Oh, punched myself in the boob." That's how it goes for me. Anyway, I just focus on tiny things, cause I used to overstride horribly, although sometimes now I think I'm reigning in my legs TOO much. Balancing act. Also, I do the twisty arm thing... so my PT told me to focus on shoulder to hip with my hands. Obviously I don't need to touch my shoulders with my hands, but just that loose, relaxed armswing from the shoulders. I also (vainly) check my form when I pass windows/cars to analyze. This is super fun when people in the house/business/car see you eying yourself. But it's helped a little.

    Anxiously waiting my next set of race photos. Which will remind me to go to the gym and do upperbody stuff... and stop binging on froyo... etc.

  8. Hahaha, loved this. Yup - the best things that improved my form (to prevent injury and become more efficient) were running "taller", and a shortened, quickened stride. Honestly the stride seems to take care of everything else.

    Bonus is you actually go quicker with less effort....eventually. But until you get used to it, you feel like a grandma dancing on fireants. Or something.

    1. I would love to see a visual of that. The Grandma and Fireants part.

  9. it's nice to know brightroom has another use, besides the reliving the emotion of whatever video they choose to make (the finish ones are my fave) and bargaining skills to figure out which crazy-priced photo you want FOREVER. i signed up for a training program this summer to hopefully get some help with my form. good luck with the new form analysis :)

  10. I just saw my pictures from PDX RNR yesterday - I look like a freaking linebacker. Could that explain why I'm so slow? Hmmm...

    I've been working on my form a littler bit - trying to lean forward at the ankles and not collapse at the waist. Most of all, I'm just trying to keep everything loose and not tense up like a crazy person.

  11. We all know that I don't know a ton (ahem, anything) about running faster, but when I was doing a reasonable amount of strength training, my running improved immensely. Body Pump classes are freaking amazing.
    And, I think your pictures are fabulous. Just imagine how badass the second picture would have looked from the side!

  12. Wow- their form is seriously beautiful. I like your twist; it looks like you're giving it your all!
    In my husband's last race photos, he is seriously heel striking.
    I've been trying to change part of my form. I have to turn my left foot out. It feels insane, but it's barely striking at centre. It's tough to do!

  13. The timing of this post is interesting for me because I have also been contemplating form. I do take short strides already and I think my current form is fine for marathons where it's not so much about speed. But as I was running the track last night, I wondered if I am really running efficiently for shorter distances.

    I do know that I don't have a whole lot of vertical movement. But I swear, I feel like I don't look like I'm running in any my race pics unless I'm in the sub 7:00 range. Otherwise, I appear to be moving in slo-mo.

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  15. Those pictures are great! I hate it when I look like I am a total spazz in my photos. I always think I am a mid foot striker then i see my race photos and know I am delusional.

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  17. I would love to improve my form. When I run, I see people's feet kick up to their butt, or almost, and I'm freakn shuffling like a moron beside the, and shortly after, behind them! I try to kick high but I'm tired after 13 seconds, yes I counted!