Because I chose wisely this morning it was a fairly uneventful day for training. I met up with John Wirum for our usual Saturday run and we pumped out a nice steady 7-miler. I'm hopeful I can keep John doing more runs with me as that will go a long way towards helping him prepare for Boston. Now is a good time to catch me as I'm not going too far or fast for him. I think he runs much better than he gives himself credit for when we train. I'm predicting great things for him at Boston this spring.
Legs felt good today and I could have run another 3 miles but I'm satisfied with what I got. I can feel the bit of pop in my stride that means I'm somewhat light on my feet, especially through the loose snow. I've been focusing more on my ankle strength and flexibility by doing the balance disc in our shop and on the Bosu ball at the club. I believe the ankle is hugely important towards helping with balance, flexibility and explosiveness.
I remember reading Lasse Viren's coach commenting on ankle power when I was a sophomore in college and it has stuck with me since. Most runners don't think of running as a balance activity but you are always on one leg at a time. Good balance takes the stress off the muscles that go up the leg. Explosiveness in the ankle also allows one to pop off the ground more quickly, thus spending more time in the air and less on the ground. Notice how the Kenyans seem to always be off the ground when running?
There are many ways to work on developing spring in your ankles, but the simplest is just jumping. As I get stronger I'll be adding more plyometric work to my routine. But a very easy way is jump rope as a warm up and focus on being light on your feet. However, if you get tired - stop. You want to train yourself to always be light and loose. Getting tired and slower will help you develop those skills better. I already know how to run slow, so I stop when I feel my form slipping.
Keep it light and loose