Today began very, very early this morning down at the airport. I’m finishing up my single-engine commercial add-on rating for my Commercial Pilot Certificate so I can fly smaller planes for hire. For the unversed, the cockpit of a Cessna 152 is not the ideal place to unwind on the weekends. It’s more like cramming yourself and a complete stranger into a tin can with wings. It was a cold morning (about 22 °F), so we began with defrosting the airplane. There’s nothing quite like standing outside for twenty minutes waiting on the airplane to pre-heat while you freeze your extremities off. Not all of that time was spent standing around, though. I got the pleasure of spraying anti-ice on the wings to clear the frost. Although “spraying” is a misnomer considering the fluid was the consistency of syrup. Ah, well. It was a beautiful morning to fly.
Similar to runners, airplanes perform better when it’s cold out too, so it was a great flight. Below is a shot of the tarmac this morning along with my previous plane, a Piper Seminole. Winds calm, sky clear. You couldn’t ask for a better day to fly or run.
Returning home didn’t offer much of a reprieve before heading out the door again on The Fiancee’s weekly long run. She’s up to six miles and doing great week to week. This success shouldn’t be glossed over. When she started running last September she could barely run for two minutes continuously. I don’t mean “two minutes” in the exaggerated sense. I mean, literally, two minutes. I’m sure she’ll hate me for posting that on here, but I emphasize her starting point to show how much progress she’s made since that time.
Today was a 6 mile run around Boomer Lake, the route I posted yesterday. The Fiancee and I traversed the 6 mile loop in a little over an hour. This was her longest run to date and she rocked it. I’m using these slower training runs as an opportunity to focus on my form and trying to make my energy use more efficient. I see so many people flailing their arms to and fro, bouncing up and down, and kicking their legs up so high you’d think they were running a five minute mile.
A really good book I would suggest for novice runners is The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer by David Whitsett, Forrest Dolgener, and Tanjala Kole. I used this book exclusively when training for my first marathon and came out injury free. The authors cover the basics of running form to mitigate chance of injury and to use energy more efficiently. The suggestions are easy to understand, but could be hard to implement if you’ve been running in an inefficient manner for a length of time. Bad habits are hard to shake. Of all the tips there are three basic things they suggest that will improve your running posture.
- Mid-Foot Strike-Long distance running is a high-impact and traumatic activity for the bones and muscles in the legs. Ensuring that you are striking the ground mid-foot reduces the impact that your feet, and ultimately, your legs feel. By distributing your weight over a larger area you are less likely to put undue strain on any leg or foot muscles.
- Arms at 90°-135° Angle-Ideally, your arms should make about the same angle as your thigh does with your body when your leg is extended. This allows your upper-body muscles to remain relaxed and keeps your shoulders loose.
- Eyes Forward-This may sound unrelated, but it serves a larger purpose. Keeping your eyes focused on the road a good distance in front of you allows you to analyze your gait. If you notice the objects in your gaze moving up and down with your strides, chances are you’re using too much energy moving vertically, rather than horizontally. Try smoothing out your runs to more effectively use your energy stores. A small amount of energy conserved over three hours can really add up.
All of this isn’t to say that to book is perfect. It is dated, and while discussing proper foot strike, it suggests either a mid-foot or heel strike. From my research, heel striking hasn’t been suggested for many years. That said, it covers everything you need to get yourself across this finish line. For anyone looking for an all-in-one training book that requires almost no prior experience, you’d hard pressed to find a better option.
I was thankful for such a beautiful day to fly and run. It isn’t often in Oklahoma that you’re blessed with a day without wind. The pictures tell the story of the day. I think I annoyed The Fiancee enough today by saying “just one more picture”. Although, I’m finding it rather therapeutic to look back on these last few days and remember specifics.
Tomorrow is another interval run for me. I normally try to take the the day before and the day after a long run off, but I missed one of my interval days this week due to inclement weather (read: freak Oklahoma winter storm). Tomorrow is shaping up to be another beautiful day. Check back for the results.