Sometimes you train like crazy for an event. Nervous energy and excitement build as race day approaches. On race day, you to put every possible effort into running fast from start to finish.
The Big Woods 50K was not one of those events. Yet it delivered one of the most fun and rewarding running experiences of the year for me.
Never heard of the Big Woods 50K? Don’t feel bad. Now in its third year, about 40 athletes toed the line at the start on Sunday morning, double the amount that ran in 2017. As a self-proclaimed “fat ass” event, this event aspires to be a relaxed, low key, loosely organized, adventure run rather than a high pressure, competitive race. There is a great tradition of fat ass ultrarunning in the United States, but I never experienced it — until now.
A highlight for me was the route that linked Coventry Woods Park, Woody’s Woods, Warwick County Park, a nice stretch of the Horseshoe Trail, and French Creek State Park. I’ve ran or biked in all of them at one point or another, but I never linked them all together like this.
Even better than the awesome route was the relaxed nature of the event. Free from the racing mindset, I could really focus on interacting with the people around me and the environment in which we were running. The five-hour event passed very quickly as we traded stories.
And it didn’t end when we crossed the finish line. A huge spread of “pot-luck” food awaited finishers. I think I counted 12 crock pots. And a huge bonfire provided refuge for athletes rapidly cooling off in the 34-degree temps.
It is hard to compare big races with social running in the woods. And why should we? The variety is exactly what makes the sport of running so awesome. We can compete in short distances on the track, long distances in the woods, fast races on the roads, slow races in the mountains, team races on cross country courses, obstacle course races just about anywhere, and “fat ass” events where speed doesn’t matter as much as camaraderie and community. What new running event are you going to try in 2019?
For Your Bookshelf
I’m reading, and re-reading, two amazing books by one author. Jay Dicharry has built a reputation for himself as a top expert for diagnosing and rebuilding injured endurance athletes — making his REP Lab a destination for top elite athletes. By working outside traditional models of therapy, he identifies underlying root causes and fixes them before they can affect performance or cause further damage.
His books are worth reading and keeping handy on your bookshelf. Anatomy for Runners breaks down complex biomechanics, energetics, and running anatomy into understandable models that runners can use to make sense of their movement patterns. Assessments and corrective exercises are provided to put this information into action. I’ve read many books on running physiology and this one provided me more “ah ha” moments and actionable information than any other.
Running Rewired is Jay’s latest book and provides even more synthesis and guidance on specific exercises and routines to advance running performance. He is much more direct in his assertion that “movement skill is critical.” A paragraph from the introduction in the book says it best:
”Instead of running more, I’m asking you to start a plan to move better. With deliberate practice, the neurophysiology in your brain will adapt and rewire its strategy for running. We’ll tackle the what, why, and how to change your body and improve your movement so you can be a more durable runner and increase your capacity to run efficiently. We will build your proficiency at these skills, effectively rewire how your body moves so you can run better.”
Following Jay’s lead on movement training for better running, we’re working to provide more exercises, workouts, and other resources at The Runner’s Toolkit. The site will be improving and expanding over the next couple of months.
Here’s some stability-centric workouts you may like to try while the rest of the site is rebuilt.
Foot-to-Core Stability: https://runnerk.it/FTC-Stability-A
Hip Stability: https://runnerk.it/hip-stability-a
Posture Stability: https://runnerk.it/posture-stability-a
Runner’s Workshop Pilot
We streamed our first live show on Wednesday. Thanks to Bill Conn for joining me in the broadcast. The delivery was far from perfect on this first attempt but the format works and we’ll keep making it better.
Please subscribe to the Runner’s Toolkit YouTube Channel to stay updated as more shows are released. You can watch them live or view the recordings whenever it is convenient. We’ll try to keep it to 30 minutes or less and some awesome guests will be joining us in the near future.