Doc Ray taught the class this time. He began by discussing the theory of leaning into a run. This is a popular idea you hear about from Chi Running and Pose Running, as well as many other running trainers and books. It's pretty simple: lean forward with your back straight, let gravity do it's work to pull you down and catch yourself with your foot before you fall. In a nutshell, that's running—a controlled fall. The more you lean, the faster you go. And if you're running without leaning, then you're wasting energy and straining muscles by pushing off with your feet.
Doc Ray had a little help demonstrating leaning with a straight back
While all the running gurus preach that leaning and letting gravity do the work is the way to go, they can't seem to agree on how to lean. Some say your whole body, head to toes (aside from the feet moving forward when your run) should be in a straight line. Others, like Barefoot Ken Bob, encourage you to keep the back straight but just bend from the hips. Doc Ray didn't advocate one method over the other, but encouraged us to try both and see which one we liked best. After all, one of the rules of Minimalist Mondays is to run in your own footsteps.
We spent the rest of the class doing a drill to help us practice these leaning styles, analyze our posture and see how they affect us while running. This meant we had to lean while staying in one place, and we used some tools to do it since it's impossible to get a full lean without running or falling. Well, unless you happen to be Michael Jackson...
For us common follk, some help is required. Doc Ray divided us into pairs and gave each group a long strip of an elastic band. We then took turns wrapping the band around the waist of our partner and holding him/her up while running. This allowed us to run in place and feel the full leaning effect. When we worked ourselves up to a good speed, the partner let go of the band and we darted off across the park (if you didn't, you'd land flat on your face).
How to run in place with a lean
This exercise allowed us to gauge our posture from a static position to make sure our backs were straight. We could also experiment with the different leaning methods. Personally, I prefer the full body lean. It was fun to watch Doc Sanatan and Doc Ray really get into it. They ran hard and dragged each other several feet before launching off like a rocket.
And as long as we're talking about speed, I came across this recently. Sorry to destroy your childhood:
Minimalist Mondays is a free injury-free running workshop that meets weekly in downtown Portland, Oregon. It is taught by Dr. Sanatan Golden and Dr. Ray McClanahan. Everyone is welcome! For more details, including recaps of past lessons, visit the Minimalist Mondays website.