IT'S ALL IN THE FOOT PLANT - 11 November 2012
Sunset - Monument Valley, AZ, File# 120023
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As most of you know, I've been "discovering" this thing we call running for a couple of years now. Just this past September I can say I've been running like I never run before which is saying I've been enjoying running like I've never enjoyed running before. Before I used to hate running, now I really really like it. What’s up with that?
Since I'm an inquisitive kind of guy, I've been trying to figure out why, why am I enjoying running so much more that I used to. It's easy to say I was highly influenced by the book Born To Run which touted the benefits of minimalist--i.e. barefoot--running. While I haven't started barefoot running I have been running without large heels on my shoes typical of the running shoe industry for two years now. As a result, I’m pretty happy with my running.
But, there's more. If you're like me, a geek, it's easy to get lost in the details of the "doing" when it comes to running. When you're out there you always think about everything; are my arms flailing, am I upright, are my knees forward, am I landing on my heels. Who knows the number of body parts one can think of when out there running. Yesterday I thought, is there one critical action, one component in the whole running stride thing that if done correctly will lead to everything else being more "right".
The theory I developed during my Skunk Works running program this morning was this; if you get the foot plant right everything else will figure itself out. What does that mean? It means when your foot hits the ground not too far forward, not too far aft, not on the heel, not on the toes, just springy, the rest of the body will figure itself out. Of course, the body has to following along with enabling the foot to touchdown just right. You can't have an upper body that's flailing incredibly while the lower is quietly touching down in a ninja kind of way. The body is connected, you can't separate it. If your foot's on the ground right, the rest of the body is probably doing something right.
Of course, I have no proof of this. I'm the guesser/blogger. I'm not the running expert. I just comment on things I realize which doesn't really mean anything I bring up has real truth. Someone else has to do the empirical exploration to see if this makes sense. Still, there is a similarity of this foot-plant theory with other things I tout. There are a couple of philosophical life concepts that fly in formation with this foot-plant theory, namely "if you get your foundation right the rest of your life will follow along".
In a "life" context, the foundation could mean a lot of real things. It's probably more than simply where you put your feet. It could be your values. It could be your relationships. It could be perspective. It could be lots of things. Still, it seems to make sense that if you get that "core" thing just right the rest of your life will likely follow along.
How does that work? Well, lots of times we will try to do "this" or "that" with the hope it all works out. "if only I had that extra couple of grand, I'd be able to do something that'll make a difference". "If only I had that car I would be happy for the rest of my life." In the context of what's core to life, that stuff is on the periphery meaning it won't make a hell of beans difference in your life. Stuff like that might change the particulars/details of what might be going on but will it change the direction your life might be going? Probably not.
You see, if you get that foot-plant right, the rest will follow along. The details, the stuff is way less important than that core thing.
What's interesting is we spend so much time and effort fretting over the details of life. Rarely do we interact with the core items to make sure they're pointed the right way and we're landing on them correctly--i.e. foot-planting correctly. As I write this I realize I'm not even sure if we'd know how to check those core things to make sure they're right. It's hard enough to identify the core things let alone making sure they're pointed in the right direction. Still, having this conversation will at least shed light on something that needs light instead of being taken for granted.
A while back I talked with a friend of mine who loved to run but kept being injured by running activities. The common thought was "what's there to learn about running. You just get out there and do it". Yet, the injuries persisted. When our running discussions eventually focus'd on form and eventually how the foot hits the ground, the pains of running went away when those lessons were applied. It seems for this friend, the most important feature was taken for granted--i.e. how the foot-planted--yet it was not quite right. With a little attention to this core piece, things fell into place leading to a much better experience towards running for my friend. Note, I'm not saying this is easy but I am saying the injury, the sharp pain parts, disappear when the core ingredient is going right.
What could happen if a similar approach could be done with life's basic, most important aspects. It certainly shouldn't mean everything would be easy and effortless. But, it might mean the angst and unproductive struggle would vanish. That certainly sounds worthwhile, doesn't it?
The next time you go for a run instead of taking for granted what you're doing, think of what might be the most critical feature of your run. Then, think how your experience of running would improve if you got that right. Imagine the same thing being done to your life. What could that be like? The possibilities might be endless.