Tuesday, August 23, 2011

drills actually work?

This morning I went to a local track to spend some time running in front of my coach so he could be the 185th person to tell me that my glutes don't work.  He also wanted to demonstrate some additional drills that will keep moving the Glutes Take Action movement forward (heh).


I got there early and did a short warm-up.  The first thing he noticed is that my arms weren't swinging from my shoulder, but instead my shoulders were moving slightly forward and back.  He also said that my arm carriage is good, but my hands have some tension in them while I'm running.  He gave me a drill to work on this, and it felt incredibly strange (like most drills) but after about a lap I felt things start to settle down.  


Now for the bottom half.  I've spent a lot of time this summer concentrating while running - not intentionally trying to force changes, but instead focusing on engaging the correct muscles in my butt.  The major side effect of this is that other pieces of my form are changing.  In the spring, I was very definitely a straight-leg over-striding heel-striker.  When I saw Dr. Maggs a month or so ago, I had transitioned to a bent-leg regular-striding heel-striker.  And now, a month or so later, I am very definitely in the mid-foot camp, which doesn't mean a whole lot but makes me ridiculously pleased.  I've spent zero time trying to change my foot placement on the ground - this has all happened as a by-product of my glutes starting to work.  Now, my glutes are still not fully engaged, and I'm still doing a bit of crunching at the waist, but I'm headed in the right direction.  We focused for a while this morning on working on being fully upright and keeping my shoulders back and gazing straight ahead (all things we should all be doing anyway).


After a bit of this, it was time to take the shoes off.  He showed me three different progressive drills done standing still, and then we add some drills/strides.  And on one of the last strides, suddenly everything clicked and the sun came out from behind the clouds.  I was landing on my forefoot and leaning from the ankles and keeping my chest up and it felt like real, actual, amazing, good running, for just a minute.  


And then I put my shoes back on and it mostly fell apart.  We did some more drills on the track - all short strides - but I could kind of fuzzily start to see how it all fits together.  And on the last drill, I did 20 yards or so of the drill and then 20 yards of running and just once, I was able to hold that amazing perfect forefoot form together with my shoes on for almost the entire 20 yards before I went back to my crunchy midfoot sleepy-glute ways.


The intent of the drills is not to change my form hugely overnight - that's actually the worst thing that could happen.  The intent is to spend time focusing on activating and firing one tiny set of muscles 100% correctly.  Over time, my body will adapt to this and small changes will occur that will hopefully keep moving me closer towards good form and running injury-free.  Which is the point of all of this, because no matter how cranky you think I am now, it's nothing compared to when I can't run.  


Tell me about drills.  Do you actually do them?  Which drills do you do?  Are B skips really hard for everyone?  

17 comments:

  1. I always hated doing the drills at the beginning of track. They always made my heart skyrocket and I'd feel more tired. Lately I've been doing a lot of forward and lateral drills while barefoot after runs and I'm actually enjoying it a bit. I have no idea if they're helpful at all. And this comment certainly isn't.

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  2. It's recently occurred to me that your body and my body seem to not work/fall apart in very similar ways, and I've never done drills of any sort in anything (fake athlete alert!), so this is fascinating to me. I'm curious to see what ends up in my own Glutes Take Action arsenal, but if it involves skipping of any sort, I'll probably just fall over.

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  3. I did lots of drills when I ran track in college. However, I have forgotten most of those drills, sorry :(

    I hope they help you though

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  4. B skips are awkward, even once you get used to them. I always feel pretty silly when I'm doing it.

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  5. I don't do drills. My lovely wife does all the DIY in our house.

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  6. I've only recently started doing them. I don't like them. I hope they work for you in helping you stay injury free!

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  7. What is a B skip?

    Anyway before every run I do walking lunges, ass kicks, high knees and I skip. If I remember (not often) when I'm done I will do walking lunges and skip as well and both barefoot.

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  8. Awesome that you are seeing a difference! I too have sleepy glutes so I may need to pick your brain on those!

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  9. This was all gibberish. It is why I don't consider myself a "runner." I just don't give two craps (at least, about my own form). But I'm glad you give two craps!

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  10. This post intimidates me and makes me realize how little I know yet yearn to learn.

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  11. I actually did a bunch of drills—agility and otherwise—in physical therapy, after I asked my PT to get me not only back into living shape post-ACL tear, but back into running and skiing shape. I bounded, I sprinted, I cut, I jumped, I hopped, I skipped, I karaoked ... and while I can't say for sure it helped my running, I was quicker on my skis post-injury than pre-injury, so it must have done some good! Will look forward to hearing details about which drills you're doing, and how much they help.

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  12. Thanks for the reminder to do drills, ya jerk! ;)

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  13. Thanks for making me feel guilty about not doing drills. haha

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  14. never done any of those drills. hm. perhaps i should get some drills in my life.

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  15. This summer I've had the opportunity to train with a couple of great coaches who have emphasized drills before and AFTER our runs (including our long run on Sunday) followed by core and hip work.

    It does make a huge difference. And yes it does take time to adapt.

    I've felt those moments where it seamlessly all falls together and you almost feel like you're floating instead of running.

    Then there are the "B drills", sorry my caucasion male DNA trumps any effort to get me to successfully attempt anything related to a B.

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  16. I don't do drills, but this post is convincing me to start. Do you have any suggestions for descriptions of these drills?

    Similar to you, I've found that now that I'm trying to work on activating my glute muscles, my form has "magically" started to correct itself - more midfoot landing, more efficient strides (less over striding) - funny how that works... :)

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