Sunday, January 23, 2011

West Stride Delivers the Goods for Marathon/Half-Marathon Training Runs

I’ve been looking for motivation to kick-off my training for the Publix Georgia Half-Marathon. I found it at West Stride yesterday morning. The store was packed with runners who showed up for 8:00 a.m. training runs for the upcoming marathon and half-marathon. West Stride’s owner, Genie Beaver, offered a variety of routes to choose from - 5.5 miles to 18 miles through the neighborhoods of Buckhead. Knowing the route was hilly, I opted for the 5.5 mile run with the 2-hour half-marathon pace group. It was a great way to start my race training.

Post-run, West Stride made sure we were well fed. Thanks to Publix, there was yogurt, fruit, water, bagels, donuts and sports cookies. Caribou Coffee provided the caffeine.

For those of us who stuck around, Genie hosted a workshop on tips to improve running form and performance with Kyle O’Day from Continuum Sports Solutions. Here’s a recap of the advice Kyle offered:

1.) Posture Matters: It’s the foundation of good running form. Maintain a posture that allows you to run tall; it helps to imagine that a string is gently pulling your head up.

2) Coordinate Arms and Legs: Pay attention to how you carry your arms – they act as a counter-balance. By coordinating the movement of your arms with your legs, you'll get a 3% boost in efficiency. Keep arms relaxed, move from the shoulder and keep swing moving from front to back. Brush your hands by the top of the hip or top of the pocket.

3) Don’t Aim for Long Strides: The more time your back foot spends in the air while in mid-stride, the less efficient your movement. After your foot comes off the ground, move it quickly to the front to improve your cadence. Don't keep knees high or the back foot dangling too long.

Here are the directions for the 5.5-mile route I ran:

· From West Stride, run through the parking lot towards West Paces Ferry
· Turn left on West Paces Ferry (watch for traffic)
· Turn left on Northside Drive
· Turn right on Valley Road
· Turn right on Tuxedo Road
· Turn left on Tuxedo Road (it splits just prior to Northside Dr)
· Turn right on West Paces Ferry and run back to West Stride

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