Tag Archives: achievement

“Narrowing your life” to reduce injury risk.

A while ago I wrote a popular article on a contentious topic: I posed the question of whether “being a slow runner” was a protective measure against having bad running form—in other words, whether people are artificially lowering their injury risk by semipermanently limiting their athletic horizons.

I wrote this as an answer to the many experiments out there that find no link between incidence of injury and running form (or type of footstrike, etc). An underlying claim of my article is that perhaps the reason that experiments find no connection is that the incidence of injury caused by “bad form” has been artificially reduced by runners slowing down in order to reduce the force dished to their bodies. The implication being, of course, that if they had good form, they would be in a position—literally, an alignment—that would allow their body to correctly, and therefore efficiently, interact with those forces. In that sense, good form may not reduce injury risk itself, but it will create faster runners.

In other words, I think it will reduce injury risk—at a given speed X or given distance Y.

I’ve made no secret of what I believe “good alignment” or “good form” to be.

I bring this topic up again because of a comment made by Gray Cook, movement expert and founder of Functional Movement Systems (FMS), on the topic of exercise, alignment, and injury risk:

“What you’re going to do inherently to manage your injury risk . . . you’re going to find yourself limited, and you’re going to migrate to those abilities that don’t cause you a problem. And you’re going to lower your injury risk by narrowing your life.”

The full video is 9 minutes long, and the quote is from the beginning of minute 8.

How philosophy powers athletic achievement: a personal anecdote.

Earlier this summer I ran the HTC race in Oregon, a well-known, hundred-plus mile relay. I was part of an excellent and enthusiastic Reed College team. I was given the more . . . motivating, if you will, leg of the race. It consisted of a set of three stretches—legs 5, 17, and 24—totaling about 21 miles. The last stretch included an 850-ft hill. I engage with running as a form of expression, and not a form of propulsion. Nowhere does the contrast between expression and propulsion become more stark than when a single group of people—each and every person with their own metaphors, mental models, and training histories—run together up a hill in heat that closes in on the double digits.

As was the case on that particular hill.

Now, I’m not the fastest runner out there. And, I gotta say: should precedent and probability have the final say, I’ll never be. But over the years, I have developed my running to be quite effortless—and therefore, quite fast. I like to run without effort, and fully engaged, like a well-oiled machine where every tiny part is playing its part in exactly the right way, all the pistons moving in perfect synchrony, all of the forces which course through my body coursing through it in exactly the right vectors. This is a story about what effortlessness means, what it does for you, and what it feels like. But more importantly I share what are, in my opinion, the most basic ideas of how to replicate it it.

Continue reading How philosophy powers athletic achievement: a personal anecdote.