Purring, Springing

One source suggests these three key words: posture, rhythm, relaxation. So when I run, I think Prr, or purring like a kitty. That sounds soft.

Relaxation is key. Sometimes I am focusing so hard. The ground is so hard. I want to be lighter. I’m not supposed to bounce. It can turn into a nag if I don’t keep it at a purr.

So, check out the diagram above. Fascinating! not just what we have to do to remain upright, but how the heels, if we went with it, would force the lean.

A number of running sites suggest pulling one’s posture up and then giving just a slight lean. I wonder if this is what they sensed, in their shoes, that they need a little lean to maintain a straight posture.

Barefoot running sites, on the other hand, don’t suggest the lean. One video showed the difference when the runner looked down at the ground in front of him and when he let his sight rest in front of him, further down the road. I add that to my posture -- just look ahead -- though in bare feet, sometimes I can get hooked on looking down to see what I might step on next. 

Barefoot Running University ran a post called “Finding Your Spring: The Missing Link to Running Gait.” Think of your legs as springs. “The tendons and ligaments of the feet and legs store energy as the foot hits the ground. This energy is released as the foot leaves the ground. It’s a little more complicated, but that’s the gist of it.” The way I get to this sensation is what in Nia we call dynamic ease. Essentially, I need to be ready to spring and I need to relax. I drop into my hips, so there’s a bit of a sinking in, and I need to bend my knees to do that. My ankles have to stay mobile instead of locked. This is also the sensation in Nia when we do cat stance: spring-loaded. Next, I do as little as possible. In my upright posture (spine floats up, in Nia, per the Alexander Technique), with my legs spring-loaded, I relax and go with the rhythm.

We played with this today in Nia. I could see in the mirror that when I sunk into my hips, bent my knees, relaxed and ran in place, I wasn’t bobbing up and down. It didn’t hurt and it wasn’t hard. A woman afterwards said that’s exactly how she hits moguls when she skies: load the springs, relax, and go with it. 

It’s important not to work hard. It’s important not to stomp around in a hurry. It’s important not to try hard to spring. Picture Tigger, bouncing on his tail, and then get out there and enjoy yourself.