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Topics - Charles Moreland

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Consumer Whores / MOVED: FREE SHIPPING
« on: June 06, 2011, 09:52:03 AM »

Parkour And Freerunning / MOVED: WMG
« on: January 25, 2011, 01:27:43 PM »

Women / MOVED: Is this like the kitchen of apk?
« on: January 05, 2011, 09:05:14 PM »

Welcome! / MOVED: Team Radical (7 months of practice)
« on: December 01, 2010, 01:57:52 PM »

Parkour And Freerunning / MOVED: general discussion
« on: October 24, 2010, 05:33:22 AM »

Pics & Vids / Travel Ep. 1: "le coq sportif"
« on: July 04, 2010, 12:46:49 PM »
Tossin' some love out to Ithaca traceurs Dave and Zach. Nice edit Dave!

Pics & Vids / Need help locating a video
« on: May 30, 2010, 07:28:52 PM »
Several years ago a parkour video showed up on the internet. I believe it was a German traceur but I could be mistaken. I remember nothing of the video other than that at the end, the traceur stopped what he was doing and helped a young child walk on a beam in a park, giving the child silent encouragement.

I have an overwhelming desire to find this video but haven't been able to. Does anyone who's been around a while remember this video or can help me find it on the internet?


Training Journals / Charles Moreland - OAC, OAHS, FL, BL, and who knows?
« on: December 13, 2009, 03:02:16 PM »
It's that time again and despite having 17 credits and 3 jobs, I'm going to attempt to set up a regular strength routine this "off" season. Here's how we will begin:

3 sec FL*                                       ~20 sec adv tuck
8 sec BL*                                       ~3 sec full
8 sec adv tuck PL                            ~25 sec tuck / 1 sec adv tuck
OAC*                                            ~10 second negative
10 sec OAHS                                  ~6-7 seconds
340 DL                                          N/A
75# pull up*                                  N/A
110# dip (depending on shoulder)     N/A
225# bench 1RM                             ~185 1RM
Straddle Press*                              Tuck press, bent arms
Full center split*                             ~10 inches to go
Backwalk over                         

Workout A
High bar squat ~3-5 rep range
1 min adv tuck FL
1 min straddle/jack-knife BL
Bench 3x5
DL 1x5

Pre-hab  YTWL complex


Workout B
High bar squat ~3-5 (might substitute with box squats)
1 min tuck PL
Weighted pull up 3x5 or one armed lat pull down 3x5
Weighted dip/OH press 3x5 (depending on shoulder)
DL 1x5

Pre-hab YTWL complex


* - skills/achievements I consider a priority

This is mostly a loose guideline but feel free to chime in with changes. I am an extremely active person, so what exercises I do on what day are liable to change depending on how I feel.


Charles Moreland
~6% bf

EDIT - I should also mention that growth and progression will potentially be very slow. I eat a rather clean diet and do not plan on approaching this program the way I did SS. I don't expect to gain too much weight.

Pics & Vids / Parkour Malaysia
« on: September 07, 2009, 06:07:09 AM »
Found this last night on Vimeo. I really enjoyed the feel and the environment:

Diet / My Summer Pledge - The 100 mile diet
« on: June 25, 2009, 09:43:16 AM »
I spend a lot of my time reading. A good deal of it actually, mostly in the forms of anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and exercise books. So recently, my focus has changed and I've been picking up books like In the Defense of Food or The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Deep Economy by BillMcKibben, Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, or Food Inc. By Karl Weber.

Much has changed since reading most of these books. A severe shift in thinking has occurred for me. Can I buy healthy food from my local super-market? Several months ago, I would say yes with certainty. Now I'm not so sure. The real shift came with this however: How does buying this item of food affect not just me and my health, but my local community?

The reality is, most foods purchased at your super-market have traveled hundreds to thousands of miles to get to your mouth. Think about a mango. A mango is a very healthy and nutritious fruit...but why is this mango in upstate New York? It wasn't picked ripe, obviously. This mango came from Mexico...sometimes Chile! Chile is 5,000 miles away! Grapes too! Grapes from my super-market are from nowhere else but Chile, and they are always there.

I'm done with industrial agriculture which is why this Summer, my girlfriend and I have decided to take the Summer Pledge to only consume local produce within a 100 mi radius. We joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and receive vegetables and fruit from local farmers, delivered to us weekly and scour our community's many weekly farmer's markets. We are given 1 exception a week, which we usually use to buy things like fairly-traded coffee, tea, raisins, or oatmeal. To follow is a list of food we've been eating and buying:

Dairy -
Raw milk cheese

Meats -
Venosin (okay so this wasn't exactly local but it is by far the leanest meat I have in the freezer currently)
Beef - all sorts of cuts - GRASS-FED and PASTURED

Vegetables -
Red Romaine Lettuce
Boston Lettuce

Grain -
Whole Wheat flour

Eggs -
Pastured chicken eggs from a chicken farmer down the road

Fruits -
Blueberries (soon!)

Please follow us on our pledge! and

General Fitness / Concept: The Lifestyle Log
« on: January 27, 2009, 05:42:23 PM »
Lifestyle - A person's pattern of living as expressed in his or her activities, interests, and opinions.

This concept of mine is derived from one originally thought up by Zac Cohn regarding the use of Twitter. Twitter is an amazing online tool that gives a person 140 characters to update/post/exclaim statements in a similar fashion to Facebook's "Status Update" feature. The defining quality here, however, is Twitter's unique use of mobile devices to allow on-the-go updates. Zac's realization was to utilize this easy tool to create a diet journal.

Later that day, several of my clients expressed interest in not only my diet, but what I do from day to day. From this, I thought up this Lifestyle Log: a log that tracks not only diet but activity throughout the day. But what makes this different from a training journal?

This style of tracking activity is much easier to use than conventional methods. While diet journals, as I would argue, are not too much of a hassle, they do require you to carry around yet one more object/thing with you everywhere you go. Twitter is different as most everyone these days has access to a cell phone and carries one around with them anyway. Thus no extra luggage is required.

Updating your account is as easy as a simple text message. After finishing an activity or meal, you take out your mobile device and 30 seconds later you have updated your log and are on the go again.

This easiness does not come without limitations however, seeing as Twitter only allows 140 characters per update. Thus, updates need to be quick, concise, and to the point else the simplicity of the update stream is broken. Because of this limitation, certain activities will have to be redirected to my blog which houses such things as my core workout routine and can also be utilized to define ambiguous activities like "gymnastics" (Which cannot be properly listed in 140 characters).

This is an experiment several days old now and will continue to evolve (hopefully) into a very useful tool that can properly define my personal lifestyle. One of my hopes for this project is to expose others to not only my lifestyle as a traceur, but also the lifestyle of others. The networking that happens through Twitter is unique and interesting especially for those of us with unlimited messaging plans as Twitter is customizable to send updates from those people you decide to follow and track.

Imagine getting a text message updating you on an activity another traceur is doing in real time. Just following a log such as this and receiving updates can be very helpful to a newer practitioner looking to understand how others approach daily training or how other practitioners live.

If you want to help in this experiment, you can go to this link:, and become a follower. Post criticism, suggestions, or comments to this thread. I'm not sure how far this concept can go, but I think it is worth testing out.

I remember there being a small discussion on pre and post-workout stretching. Not only is todays article an excellent write up on the concepts behind the General Warm Up, but he also has a great section discussing this very topic.

The General Warm Up: Stretching

If there is a single aspect of training and warm-up mired in more argument and debate these days, it’s the issue of stretching prior to workout.

To understand why, I need to define a few different kinds of stretching. They are:

Static Stretching: this is what most think of as stretching and entails holding a stretch for extended periods (15-60 seconds or longer) without movement.

Dynamic Stretching: This is a type of stretching involving controlled movement where the body is taken through progressively greater ranges of motion for a number of repetitions. Various walking lunges, Spidermans and the other host of active mobility drills that have become popular could probably be placed under this heading as well.

Ballistic Stretching: often confused with dynamic stretching, this type of stretching entails essentially ‘throwing’ a limb through a given range of motion without control. This type of stretching has generally fallen out of favor in recent years.

The United States has long had an almost pathological obsession with static stretching and statement that you need to stretch for 10-20 minutes before training are still heard; it’s quite common to see folks going through extended static stretching routines prior to all manners of workouts as well.

In contrast, there has been a recent backlash against static stretching prior to training with emerging research that extended static stretching can impair power and strength production. Based on this research, many will state without qualification that static stretching should never be done prior to lifting weights and that only dynamic stretching should be done.

Admittedly, there are merits to the idea of using dynamic stretching pre-workout and saving static stretching for later (either after the workout or later in the day); research certain supports that idea.  Without going into excessive detail, excessive static stretching appears to ‘damp down’ certain neural processes involved in optimal strength and power performance.

At the same time, there are a few problems with the dogma that static stretching is always bad. For example, many studies have used fairly excessive amounts of stretching, at least one study found that only extended static stretching (longer than 30 seconds per stretch) had a negative impact on performance, shorter stretches cause no problems; other research suggests that any length of static stretching can impair performance.

Another issue, however, is that many of the study protocol often don’t really represent a realistic approach to training in the first place. Generally speaking, the subjects are given extensive static stretching routines and then expected to perform some type of maximal strength or power test; this isn’t usually how people train in the real-world.

Rather, most would perform their stretching following a general warm-up but would follow the stretching with some type of specific warm up such as progressively heavier sets of an exercise that should, in premise, reactivate any inhibited neural mechanisms. To my knowledge, that type of sequencing hasn’t been tested.

Additionally, there are times when static stretching may be absolutely required prior to weight training; usually this occurs when someone has a severe flexibility limitation that prevents them from performing an exercise in good form.

A common example would be someone for whom tight hamstrings or glutes might cause low back rounding in the bottom of the squat. Another would be someone who, due to poor posture (from sitting in front of a computer for example), had problems properly performing a safe and proper bench press without static stretching their pecs and delts.

Clearly, in this case, any small loss in strength or performance is far outweighed by being able to perform the exercise safely and effectively.  In the short-term, avoiding injury is far more important than any acute loss of performance.

That said, my general preference is to use dynamic stretching pre-workout and save static stretching for post-workout or later in the day (a hot shower followed by gentle static stretching is a good way to relax the body and prepare for sleep). Just keep in mind that the whole ‘never static stretch before workout’ isn’t quite as absolute as many are making it sound.

I’d also note that the need for stretching can vary drastically. Someone with a large number of major inflexibility issues will need proportionally more stretching prior to training than someone who has no such limitations and relatively good flexibility.

The former trainee might need a fairly extensive stretching program prior to training while the latter might need, at most, a quick spot check of the muscles to ensure everything is as loose as it needs to be.

General Fitness / Training Suggestions for the Frustrated Traceur
« on: October 29, 2008, 06:03:46 PM »
All too often I hear or read about yet another traceur who is frustrated with their training. They feel worn out, defeated, plateaued, or simply lost. There are many different causes for this feeling of confusion or disorientation. After spending some time training others, I have found there are a few common denominators that lead to this general confusion of direction. These problems include "goofing off", lack of structure, checklist style routines, aimless wandering, or the all too common effects of over-training.

Goofing off is one of the more common starting points for most traceurs. The routine, or lack thereof, is very aimless and childish in a way but most hobbies, disciplines, and other interests start off this way. It develops the fun base and supports the progression into a serious trainee. This is a defining characteristic however. At some point they came to the realization that progress is not made in a casual environment. Is it fun to goof around and jump over, under, or through random obstacles? Sure. But chances of someone else taking you seriously are very minimal as is the potential for continuous growth. If are one who is confused or lost with his or her training progress, perhaps all you need to do is make the change and develop a more serious or mature training routine.

Other times, the problem is found in the lack of proper structure. They know they want to practice and train parkour, but they have no idea how to go about formalizing a workout routine. What ends up happening is an advanced form of the "goofing off" style of training. They are serious about training, they just don't know how and end up spending countless hours practicing things that my not even be beneficial to them. Sooner or later, confusion and plateaus will arise.

The next form of detrimental training I have found fairly unique to parkour but you can also see this in other art forms such as breakdancing or sometimes gymnastics. Focusing your training on a checklist style routine is detrimental because it creates tunnel vision to the discipline as a whole. Effectively, you lose the vision of parkour and no longer see parkour for what it is, but rather just a series of skills. You then go out and say, "Okay from now on I'm going to work kongs until I have them mastered." This is great, however, in most cases you will become blind to the other options out there. Once you do manage to master a skill or technique, you abandon it until you master yet another technique. This tunnel vision will have negative effects on your training.

The last common problem I have found does not come about from some routine malfunction. In many cases the traceur has a very structured routine, but fails to recognize the training they do outdoors similar to the training they do in a gym environment. This causes them to push and push and soon they become ill, sore, fatigued, and mentally drained. These are the effects of over-training. Too much of a good thing can and many times will be dangerous and parkour training is not exempt from this.

So now we've identified key detrimental factors that may be the cause of your confusion or lack of progress. With these in mind, how can we avoid them happening in our training? Several key factors I feel will benefit are organization, proper training structure, and a respect for time or the ability to be patient.

Organization and proper training structure are two of the biggest factors in attaining and maintaining a fitness regime. I do not need to cover this aspect extensively as another of this community has already: Steve's "How to construct a workout" article. Steve's article will set you on the right track to proper training structure as well as give you some insight into why a structured routine is more useful to a beginning trainee.

Patience is something I think many practitioners, including myself, lack to varying degrees. We've fallen in love with our art/discipline and we want to live, breathe, eat, and sleep parkour. This may be all good and dandy but it is necessary to understand the effects parkour training can have on the body. Depending on your workout structure, training for parkour in an unconventional setting will have all the same effects as more conventional forms like weight training. Respect for training in this way, regardless of how much fun you may be having, is absolutely needed. To explain further from personal experience, I ran into related issue last year with bouldering.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that involves short but complex problems that often require extreme upper and/or lower body strength, cooridination, and balance. Because of this feature, bouldering is a truly intense workout. The thrill of completing a new problem, however, clouded my vision from this concept and as the weather got increasingly worse, I found myself in the rock gym 5 days a week. It didn't take long (approximately two months) for over-training to take hold and suddenly I had a slew of overuse injuries. Training for parkour can be detrimental in this same way if you lose sight of the effect it has on your body. I understand that everyone wants to expand their limits but give it time; Train for life, not for prestige.

One final point I'd like to make is more of an argument for supplemental exercise. I'm sure most people who will find themselves reading this will have also read Blane's famous article When Worlds Collide. Blane's article is intriguing and compelling, but as most people who plateau will still be beginners, take his disclaimer to heart:

This is not so much a recommendation for newer practitioners to Parkour, as it will take a solid strength foundation to train in the way I am suggesting in this post. If you undertake any of the advice in this post without a certain amount of prior training and conditioning then you are very likely to pick up injuries and cause more damage in the long run.

There is a certain distinction that needs to be made. New comers to parkour and novices require a certain amount of strength to protect them from the stresses parkour places on the body. After Blane's many years of training, perhaps doing 50 precision jumps near maximal distance were more beneficial to his personal goals to better his parkour ability. However, to a novice, this may not be the best or most efficient approach which brings me to my last point: supplemental exercise.

I believe supplemental exercise outside of parkour skill training is absolutely necessary to get yourself where you want to go. This can be in the form of conditioning type exercises, other disciplines (Gymnastics or the Martial Arts), and/or weight training. Doing 50 precision jumps may be beneficial at near elite levels, however, to a novice this will probably not be the best approach. Mastery of parkour at this level is located in the flow and control exhibited by the traceur and their previous training has given them the strength and explosiveness needed. I believe this sets up a noticeable heirarchy to follow:

Introduction of basic techniques

Process of attaining personal potential

Process of mastering and controlling that personal potential

Blane is trying to achieve mastery while a novice will be trying to expand their horizons. To control and master a nine or ten foot precision, you must first be able to jump nine or ten feet. These types of gains are easily achievable through olympic style lifts. To state this as an example, if I want to continually train to expand my broad/precision jump, my workout routine will involve supplemental oly lifts along with precision jumps during technical parkour training days; I expand slowly and learn to control my explosive gains as they are made, rather than avoiding parkour training to focus solely on oly lifting or vice versa.

A benefit to more conventional style workouts is that you can track your progress with numbers to see your personal progress. This is an encouraging factor for novices that keeps them and their training healthy and continually progressing. Numbers are invaluable when it comes to training as is the use of a written training log. Lucky for us, there is an entire forum for this very purpose that allows you and everyone else to see the kind of training you are doing. This helps to keep you motivated, helps others offer suggestions to improve your results, and helps others diversify their own routines based on yours.

Becoming frusterated with your training I feel is a problem wide spread enough to discuss as the solution is relatively simple and often overlooked. Many of us, for example, are quick to complain about being tired throughout the day but overlook the fact that we stayed up several hours later than needed to watch that last inning, quarter, or play that last game. All you may need to do is just get more sleep. Just the same, if you're looking for serious progress with parkour, perhaps all it takes is a more serious approach to training for it. I hope this essay will help you target and locate your problem areas and give you a step in the right direction toward a more serious or more appropriate training routine as well as opening the floor to others who have been in this very position and have found their own way out of it.

Post any suggestions, hints, or tips here.

Socialize / Building the Gymnastic Body
« on: September 12, 2008, 09:41:17 AM »
After so many long years of waiting, Coach Sommer's book, Building the Gymnastic Body, is finally arriving.

It would do everyone a lot of good to pick up some of the wisdom presented here. Here is the link for those that do not the website:

Pre-Arrival sale price is $40 which I believe to be more than reasonable.

Happy training!

Illinois / Coming to Oz Park tonight
« on: August 13, 2008, 10:00:06 AM »
Frosti told me to come to Chicago when we were in Denver. Little did he know I had already scheduled to meet with one of my old friends in Chicago following the COPK jam. So I'll be making my way to Oz park tonight at 7pm to chill, probably only for a few hours but better than nothing!

Looking to see you guys there!

General Fitness / Problem directed toward Muse
« on: August 01, 2008, 09:52:30 AM »
This problem is mainly directed towards Muse seeing as she probably sees this the most, but anyone with help can surely respond.

Muse, I've been a martial artist for about a decade now, but took a 5 year break during high school. Upon getting back into tae kwon do, I noticed a very strange case where side kicks and round house kicks above waist height gave me crippling pinching pain in my hips. A year of work on my own has proven ineffective and I recently got myself into an athletic PT who also was perplexed by my problem.

3 weeks of testing hasn't helped anything.

HOWEVER, last night I spent hours going through the mechanics of proper side kicks and roundhouse kicks, breaking it down to bare basics and it's connection with proper anatomical function. I won't go into too much detail, but I did have an epiphany of sorts and started realizing that the angle of a kick is not developed by the kicking leg, but the planting leg. To achieve a proper side kick and round house kick, the pelvis must rotate externally 70+ degrees.

The muscles that drive this motion are the gluteas medius and the piriformis. I know you deal with this in ballet in the first position, where the legs (femurs) are fully externally rotated increasing the angle to 160+ between both feet. I can't do this, which I now know is causing my greater trochanters to driver into my pelvic wall causing severe pain everytime I try to force a high kick.

So I'm curious to hear any help you have for me and to hear if you've dealt with this situation before. I can place my leg against a wall, and using a chair forcefully push myself into proper alignment and hold an easy and comfortable 150 degree side kick (a kick I can barely reach past 80 degrees with). How would you go about fixing this? What kind of exercises should I be looking to do to best target the muscle needed to drive this pelvic motion? Have you seen improvement in individuals who start ballet and cannot achieve first position but after time and practice can perform one comfortably?


EDIT - I should have added, at this present moment I can achieve a 90 degree angle through max muscular exertion in first position.

General Fitness / An Approach Toward Proper Running Technique
« on: March 24, 2008, 07:31:56 AM »
I often ask people around me for a nice run. The joys of running are two fold when you have a running partner and it is an easy way to help serious runners push themselves. However, up until recently, I've never been able to convince anyone to run with me. This problem eluded me until the 'joys' of winter forced me to run inside on the gym track or risk turning out like the Ice Man. Running inside is a detriment for me, however it did let me see exactly why I was having this problem. Negating two or three people, everyone had horrible running form. Everyday it was a new clunker which enlightened me as to why no one likes to run: no one knows how!
Now it is exceedingly difficult to teach someone how to run properly with just text, but I hope that this paper will be a push in the right direction for some. Running is one of the most basic of instincts and for many is a necessity for basic human development. Running was our source of safety from the dangers of prehistoric times.
Running was designed to be done barefoot. It was our own brain growth and the development of our frontal lobe that first gave someone the idea of wrapping the feet with leather to keep them warm, and later padding to help keep them safe. Over these last thousand years, shoes have now become extensions of our feet that have the ability to amplify their characteristics.
Modernism has a downfall however. Shoes from early childhood are the reason why most people have lost the ability to run. Shoes provide for a margin of error which negate the immediate bad effects from improper stride. Thus, proper form is not self developed during our childhood and through adolescence many of us lose stride. Improper stride is inefficient and directly relates to the general consensus of running being dull, a headache, and most of all, hard!
Our society as a whole is starting to understand the issue that obesity is an epidemic and it's great to see so many new people taking to running once again. However, most of these new runners would be better off not running and finding alternate forms of exercise. Improper stride is not anatomically correct and so when it is maintained over several years, problems start to develop. The occurrence of shin splints, periostitis, vast majorities of knee and foot problems as well as back related injuries come into play.
So we understand the consequences of improper stride. How can we understand proper form? Proper form is based around efficiency of movement. You may not realize it, but every step you take follows a specific pattern that took thousands of years to develop. We evolved to better adapt to our surroundings and through this process, we evolved a method for efficiency.
I could just start diving into running mechanics, however how can we understand the mechanics of running without first understanding the mechanics of walking and why they are different? Due to the mechanics that happen while running, it is most efficient to strike in the mid-section of the foot. But why then do we not strike with the mid-section while walking? Walking is most efficiently performed when the foot follows the toe to heel path. During the initial phase of walking, the center of gravity is moved forward slightly to allow for inertia, but once a stride is achieved, the heel strikes the ground and acts as a counter-balance to keep us upright. When walking, foot strikes happen in front of the body which explains the efficiency of toe to heel movement. This action allows us to maintain steady momentum while keeping our neutral center of gravity. These mechanics explain why we can maintain a continual pace over much longer periods than we can while running. However, it also explains why we cannot walk fast.
Fast walking becomes clearly inefficient when following the rules just mentioned. Each stride is going to require a certain force to accelerate and propel the body forward to maintain momentum but due to the mechanics of walking, each push off is going to require a heel strike counter balance which will only expel and waste energy. This is why we run.
So how does running differ? Running mechanics can be broken down into steps. For the sake of simplicity, we can look at a full stride consisting of a loading and firing phase along with a foot-strike, transition, and push off phase. Other issues we'll look at will include posture, breathing, arms, and personal mindset.
A stride begins from rest first with a shift of weight forward in the desired direction. Because we want to continually move forward, this shift in the center of gravity will not change unless we desire to change direction or increase speed. This center of gravity shift places weight on the midsection of the foot which brings up the first phase of a stride: the push off.
The push off phase is one which a vast majority of people confuse and causes the first mental obstacle in regards to running. Many people destroy the efficacy of the run by first thinking that a run is something that attempts to counter-act the forces of gravity. This causes undeveloped runners to have an “up/down” mentality approach towards running. This mindset causes your body to expel unnecessary energy to propel the body up against the forces of gravity and then more unneeded energy to be expelled to slow the body's descent upon foot-strike. Push offs happen beneath the center of gravity and the body follows the path of a projectile being fired at very steep degrees. This form of running is the main reason why many people associate running with pain and work.
Up/down running is the cause of many running related injuries. Because the body is moving in an up and down manner, the hip and knee joints do not flex but rather stay straight. Because of this, there is no loading process and when the foot-strike happens, the legs must first absorb and then push off which will require greater amounts of energy. Time spent earth-bound is increased as greater forces are applied and in many cases, these forces are put on the skeletal system which leads to significant damage to skeletal structures. Looking at this from Newton's point of view, we are accelerating an object, and stopping an object, accelerating an object, and stopping an object once again. Sounds tiring.
Running is designed to be a movement along a horizontal plane. It should be looked at with horizontal motion in mind, which is to say you are not working against gravity you are moving parallel to it. A proper stride starts with a light push off in a forward direction well behind the runners center of gravity. The body itself does not make drastic changes along the vertical plane but rather should stay low to the ground. Time spent on the ground is decreased and minimal. By looking back at Newton's perspective, the object is in a constant state of motion. The power needed during each foot-strike to maintain this constant motion is relative to the speed at which you are moving.
While a push off is being made, the opposite leg is flexed to allow for more efficiency while moving along it's horizontal plane, as physics tells us a shorter object will circumvent space faster than a longer one. This flexion also makes for an easy transition into the loading (cocked gun) phase. By loading the leg and preparing it while in the air, we can minimize the time needed to spend on the ground which helps us decrease the amount of velocity we will lose. A load leads to a fire and the legs extend towards to ground. Because of this process, a foot-strike should always be done in the midsection of our feet and under the center of gravity. This keeps our center of gravity forward which allows for better management between momentum and inertia. This mechanic also allows us to disperse our weight amongst three major joints in our body (the ankle, knee and hip) keeping the force centered around our musculoskeletal system and off of our skeletal and joint structures.
Posture is just as important a factor as proper stride is. A common mistake in novice runners is the tendency to lean forward at the hip, emulating the postures of elite runners they may have seen on television. What actually occurs is an illusion that makes us think they're torsos are leaning forward. However, when looking at certain snapshots, you can see that in fact their entire body is aligned properly in a straight line leading from the firing leg, through the back and up through the head. The back is straight and the chest is out. This allows for an opening of the lungs to allow for more efficient breathing. By leaning over at the hip, you place excess amounts of stress on the lumbar vertebrae which  is the main cause for most running related back injuries. You also close your chest cavity forcing your diaphram to more forcefully contract and expand with each breath. This expels energy and causes you to fatigue faster.
Arms are an extension of the torso. They serve to counter act the forces generated by leg swings to maintain proper balance. However, unless you are in a dead sprint, your arms serve no other purpose. Tensing the muscles in the arms will only cause blocky, robotic like technique which once again causes your body more unneeded stress. Arms should be loosely flexed around 90 degrees and should feel utterly relaxed. Your arm motion is not an active movement, which is to say they are not moving themselves. Arm motion is brought about by the legs and not vice versa. A good technique I follow is the two finger method, which places my thumb in between my four fingers. This supposedly helps keep the forearm relaxed.
Breathing is potentially the least accounted for mechanic that causes most novice runners discomfort. In 1971, Bowerman and Brown suggested that breathing should be synchronized and rhythmic. Twelve years later,  Bramble and Carrier found that as performance levels of runners increased, so too did their reliance on rhythm and synchronization. The rhythm is important as it brings harmony between the energy demands of the stride and the process which provides it's energy. This is a technique that requires experimentation as everyone will be slightly different. As an asthmatic, this technique alone is what spurred on my enjoyment of running. It suppressed the desire for wheezing when in conjunction with proper posture. Rhythmic breathing allowed me to optimize the oxygen I was taking in, serving as a buffer for the thirty percent scar tissue I have caused by severe asthma. As an example, during a light to moderate pace run, I inhale over the course of four strides and exhale over three. Breathing itself should feel just as relaxed as everything else regarding a run. A tense runner is an unhappy runner.
When your status as a runner increases and you become more accustomed to faster paces, a technique suggested by Thomas S. Miller, Ph.D, called belly breathing becomes increasingly useful. Belly breathing is best exemplified by pursing your lips during an exhale. The action causes your stomach muscles to tighten to push out the air. At first this technique sounds rather inefficient, however when looking closer, the push from the stomach muscles actually forces out all the carbon dioxide held with in the lungs. As your muscles relax, a vacuum is created which easily draws air into the lungs and efficiency is maintained.
By making these changes to stride and posture, one will feel much more relaxed during a run. The run becomes more fluid and efficient which brings with it more levels of enjoyment. A run is exhilarating and dynamic; It becomes something that makes you feel energized, rather than something that brings thoughts of pain and toil. Running should be looked at as a pleasure; something soothing, fluid and relaxing. With this mindset comes enjoyment!
To better understand these elements of running, hopefully some visual examples can better solidify their interpretation.

Here you can see the period just before contact is made for the foot-strike phase. As you can see, the leg is already extending towards the ground to fire and make for a quick transition. The opposite leg is flexed to allow for more efficient movement along the same axis while also being prepared for the firing foot-strike and transition phase. The left foot is on a gradual decline and is everted slightly to ensure contact in the midsection of the foot.

Here demonstrates posture. The back is up and the chest is out. Despite this I could probably even modify this slightly and straighten out the line that is being made from the firing leg through my torso by leaning forward just slightly more. Elbows are flexed but relaxed, being guided by the motion generated by my lower body. My head is up and looking forward, not haunched over or sagging.

When looking at the previous photo compared to this one you can see the horizontal element coming into play. The static horizontal made by the fence serves as a reference to show how my vertical position changes from push off to mid stride. The change is insignificant and only a couple of inches. This demonstrates a more “rock skipping” type stride rather than an “up/down” technique which is inefficient and causes excessive fatigue.

These are not demonstrations of perfect technique though. Perfection takes years of dedication and hard work to achieve and serves as a demonstration of utter beauty. The best possible example I could ever give is Hicham El Guerrouj's world record setting mile run in 1999. Watch closely their technique. These are elite runners and they make it look so effortless! They do not huff and puff and they never haunch over. They appear to be in complete harmony as they fluidly fly across the track. There is no better demonstration of proper form.

The technique required for proper form revolves around proper condition of the ankle stabilizers. I'm a big advocate for barefoot running, however until strength is gained, no serious or extended running should be performed without shoes. Light barefoot jogging I found beneficial to serve as a guideline similar in concept to rolling on concrete when learning how to roll. Learning should always be done on soft surfaces with an occasional concrete roll to gauge performance. So too should you practice with shoes and slowly work your way towards workouts involving some form of barefoot jogging.
Regardless whether you do or do not wear shoes, strength of the ankle stabilizers will help you maintain proper stride and help you avoid such injuries mentioned previously in this paper. There are some very simple ways to condition your ankle stabilizers to safely and effectively handle such loads of stress if you are a beginning runner. Lose the shoes and socks and do some of these walking drills that take no more than 5 minutes everyday:

-Walking on the edges of the feet

-Walking on the inside of the feet (Note: this involves a very slight lift of the outer toes)

-Walking with toes facing in

-Walking with toes facing out

-Walking on the heel of the foot (Note: if there is no soft surface around, put your shoes back on)

In conclusion, running is a learned skill that sadly has lost priority in our modern age. Many people misjudge it's role in effectively maintaining a healthy state of being throughout our lives. Because running is no longer pushed at young ages, and because more and more kids end up with shoes on their feet at younger and younger toddler years, we never acquire the condition needed to provide as a base for proper running technique throughout our lives.
As stride efficiency increases, so too does our enjoyment of it's performance. It is a tool we can use to center our thoughts and for some is a method of personal meditation. This form of running is one that leaves you invigorated and refreshed looking forward to the day or the tasks that lie ahead. Running is not something to be loathed but embraced and all it takes is a little knowledge, some motivation, and dedication. Soon you'll be finding yourself running faster and for longer with out ever noticing it!

Summary -

-Running is movement along a horizontal plane, not up and down!
-Center of gravity should always be forward
-Strides should make very light “fwap, fwap, fwap” sounds NEVER loud CLUNKS!
-Foot-strikes, transitions and push off should happen very quickly, try to spend as less time as you can on the ground
-You should always land on the mid-section of the foot. This allows utilization of all three lower body joints
-Back should be straight and your chest should be out
-Arms should be loosely held at 90 degrees and should be very relaxed
-Look forward! Not at the ground. There's a lot to look forward to ahead
-Breathing should be in rhythm and synchronized with your strides. It too should feel relaxed and easy no matter what obstacles you may have (asthma or equivalent)
-Run outside! There's a lot to enjoy!
-Don't listen to music while running. Get in tune with your body and focus on breathing and strides. Let it sink in
-A running partner is always a great way to have fun while pushing yourself
-Last but not least, it's never a bad idea to SMILE!!

Sources -

Bakoulis, Gordon. Getting Real About Running. New York. Ballantine Publishing Group, 2002.

Broer, Marion R. Ph.D. Efficiency of Human Movement. Philadelphia. W. B. Saunders Company, 1960.

Miller, Thomas S, PhD. Programed to Run. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2002.

Morris, Rick. "Running Form for Distance Runners." Running Planet. March 15, 2008 <>.

Maryland / Spring Break
« on: February 21, 2008, 12:16:58 AM »
I'll be tagging along with Zac back to the Annapolis come the 27th to the 7th. I know a visit or two (or 5  :) ) is in the works. Just wanted to make it known that we will be in the area and we will be looking for some fun!

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