Running with Chris McDougall

So today may have been one of the coolest days ever. Today I met, ran with, got tips from, got his booked signed and got a picture with Chris McDougall. Thanks to someone mentioning it in the Barefoot Runners Club of Greater Hartford group on Meetup, I was able to get in on the noon o’clock run in Bushnell Park today with Chris McDougall. He was immediately welcoming, down to earth and just oozes the love of running. It was a small group, 8 of us plus Chris and we ran over to the Riverfront and across the Founders Bridge and along the East Hartford Riverfront. About 5 people were totally barefoot and the rest of us were in Vibrams. Halfway through I decided to go totally barefoot as well and took the Vibrams off. I figured it didn’t hurt to give it a try while I was running with an expert, and I can tell you that I totally loved it. What was so cool about the whole thing is that for a little while, Chris ran with me and gave me tips about my technique and running style. He showed me how I should be running and then critiqued when I tried it out. It’s not every day you get running tips from someone like him. I’ll share some of those tips in a later blog. We ran about 4 miles and made it back to Bushnell Park to grab our stuff then I headed to my office to grab my book to get signed. Went over to the XL Center to pick up my bib and then went over to where Chris was hanging out to get my book signed. I can tell you it is super cool to walk up to someone like that and have him say, “Hey Caitlin!” without me having to remind him of my name. We chatted for a few minutes, he signed my book (To Caitlin – Thanks for dirtying your toes with me. Run wild! -Christopher McDougall) and I got a picture with him while telling him about my blogging and barefooting escapades. Then a line started to form so I said bye and went on my way.

Forward to a few hours later at the Eat Pasta, Run Fasta! dinner and lecture. My friend Julie and I got front row seats and listened to Chris regale us with funny and somewhat random stories of people he knew and tips on how to get the most out of the race tomorrow. The story he started off with went something like this: So there’s this guy I know and he’s an arborist and a few years ago he and some of his friends decide to have a little party for the winter solstice. Now when they have a party it means they climb 100 feet into a tree to watch the sunset for the solstice, and that’s fun for them. So they were hanging out and then he ends up falling out of the tree. Now he’s 120 feet up in the air, and they say that if you fall 40 feet you’ll reach a velocity of 45mph and you’ll die. So he’s 120 feet up and he reach a velocity of 90mph on his way down. A fall like that will kill you.

[At this point in the lecture I'm thinking to myself... is he seriously telling us a story about a guy who died? You can't start a lecture off by telling a story where the main character dies. He must not die. What does this have to do with running?]

And from what I heard from his friends who are on the ground watching this happen, while he was falling he yelled the word “headache” and then became completely silent. Now when you’re falling like that, you’re body will automatically turn itself upside down so you’re falling head first, it’s just what happens. So his friends see him falling, hear him yell “headache”, which by the way is what they would yell when they were climbing and would drop something, like a carrabeaner. So he yells “headache” then goes totally silent. They watch him claw the air and right before he hits the ground, he punches it. His friends hear this huge “whoooooosh” of air leaving his body, and he’s lying in a crater that his body made in the ground. A few seconds later they hear an intake of breath, and he rolls over. They rush him to the hospital and he has a few broken ribs, a shattered foot or something, but four days later he checks himself out and goes on with life. So why didn’t he die, and what does this have to do with the marathon you’re going to run tomorrow? Two reasons. First, when his friends said that he yelled “headache” and then went totally silent, professionally silent, he was relaxing his body. He realized that being tense wasn’t going to help anythng, so he let his whole body go limp. Second, from his training he knew that the shoulder and the neck are connected in such a way that if he could flip himself around and punch the ground as he landed, that his neck would tense and he would keep it from breaking. So he protected his neck. So what I’m saying is for tomorrow, relax. Rely on your training. You’ve worked for it and you’ll make it through tomorrow so long as you relax. Enjoy it.

The rest of the lecture was great and got me totally pumped to run tomorrow. Good luck to all of the ING Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon and 5k runners!! See you out there!

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