We had a group run with Bart Yasso on Friday morning where I loved chatting with my new friends on an easy run around the town of Bethlehem.
Rainy group run.
(Photo from Harold.)
Breakfast was provided by Altra Zero Drop Footwear and then we had presentations all morning from Altra and Icon Health & Fitness. I don't think I could sum up all the presentations in one post so I am going to post some of the things I learned that I immediately took advantage of. I plan on speaking more in depth about Icon Heath & Fitness and Altra once I have a chance to further make use of their products. Although at this time I can say, I am loving my new Altra shoes. We also received a few things from FreeMotion Fitness Apparel, another Icon company, and wow, I am very happy with their clothes.
(Photo from Harold.)
The founder of Altra, Golden Harper, spoke first to us about his company and the importance of running technique. Golden's story included setting the world record for the fastest, youngest marathon, a 2:45 at the age of 12. He grew up in his parent's running store where he told us about taking apart shoes and altering them to allow for better running form. He felt that a zero drop shoe was the key to better running form as it helped you to avoid heel striking and to run how we were meant to run.
Golden led a running clinic for us. During my half marathon on Sunday, I constantly reminded myself of Golden's tips and I truly believed my running had already improved. Golden believes in 4 techniques that allow you to be a better runner without even changing your shoes. They are:
- Balanced Forward Posture--This includes a slight lean at the ankle and keeping your head up and your chest forward. He mentioned that if you start feeling like you are losing your posture to throw your arms up in the air in order to return to the proper running form.
- Compact Arm Swing--This was the tip I took to the most. I see my terrible arm swing in so many pictures. Your elbows should remain behind your shoulders. Your arms should not swing across your body at all. Look at the elites and mimic their arm swing, it is probably way more efficient than you are used to.
- Proper Foot Placement--Land under a bent knee, and avoid reaching and over-striding. Again, another tip I really focused on. This will protect you from all sorts of injuries and make you more efficient.
- 180 Steps/Minute--Keep those feet moving.
After our Icon Health & Fitness presentations, it was time to for our private session with Shalane Flanagan!!! I had almost forgotten about this as I already felt like I had taken away so much from the weekend.
Shalane was so fun to listen to. She is such a real and sweet person, yet so incredible. She told us a story about how she used to picture Kara Goucher's face in her head during tough workouts and now she and Kara picture Kenyans in their head. During the women's forum that Shalane was a part of, she told us a summary of what went down at the Olympics. I learned SO much from what she described. She talked of putting herself mentally in a place where she was hurting but was pretty much on autopilot. She pushed herself beyond her limit that day and finished in an amazing 10th place. When she dropped to the ground, she literally could no longer move. She used up every bit of everything she had that day.
I am wearing my new FreeMotion top and Brooks shorts.
This speech taught me that running is hard for everyone, even the elites. We all need to find it in ourself to push past that voice that is telling us we need to stop. Shalane had said up until the very end she kept thinking she was going to quit. She didn't think she was going to finish that race. But she did. Amazing.
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Matt Long's speech, who was the Keynote Speaker for the weekend. Wow, wow, wow. I read Matt Long's book almost two years ago. It is very inspiring. But hearing Matt say it in his own words allowed me to take home an even bigger message.
He kept talking about, Would You Have the Will to Keep Competing? If you were in his shoes, would you have the will to keep on living. We all have our setbacks in life. I had a HUGE setback in mine last year when I lost my brother. It wasn't easy for Matt to move on and be OK with living. It took a wake up call from his mother to get him motivated to LIVE. Matt talked about how you must have the will in you to keep going. Matt moved on from his accident and completed the New York City Marathon and Ironman Lake Placid. He is not the same athlete he once was, but he says he is a better person than he once was. Matt Long is an inspiring man and I plan on keeping his message close to my heart if I ever doubt myself or think that my life is too hard. I do have the will and know that my will is what will help me succeed in more things than just running.
Golden, Shalane, and Matt Long taught me many things, but that is only the start of what I took away from the weekend. I am so thankful that FitFluential gave me the opportunity to attend the Runner's World weekend as I also met some amazing and inspiring bloggers that I now call my friends. I loved talking to everyone and hearing their story. I learned so much from you all and look forward to meeting you again at a future race. I took home memories from a weekend that I would say was the highlight of my year.