I can be a big-time stickler for details – a proverbial pain-in-the-ass if you will :), when it comes to how we perform the basic and fundamental exercises that are designed to help us improve. Anyone who’s ever worked with me knows that. I tell the truth, and sometimes that’s hard to hear. 

Whatever YOUR goals are, whether it’s getting faster, going longer, or becoming more durable, the reason I get crazy about form is because I want you to GET THE RESULTS you want! It’s about you. And your success.

Obviously though…there’s more to it. That is, there’s a more detailed and distinctly science-based reason I get so crazy about small, tiny little details. What is it?

I call it the POWER of exponentially increasing dynamic load.  

Say, what? I bet you’re wondering what I’ve been smoking? Ha!  🙂

So what’s it really mean and why should it matter to you?

Throwing a baseball…

Allow me to tell a little imaginary story and let’s see if this helps explain what I am hoping to convey today to help you get what you want from your training.

Close your eyes and imagine you’re standing in someone’s driveway in any town in California. You’ve got a baseball in your hand, and you’re going to attempt to throw it across the street with the goal of hitting the neighbor’s driveway.

To actually be able to do that successfully, you’d have to calculate the angle at which you’d cock your arm back and the angle at which you’d throw the ball into the air, right? (Your brain will probably do this all on its own – you wouldn’t have to think much about it).

If you did a good job of calculating that angle, you’d probably have a VERY good chance of hitting the neighbor’s driveway without too much trouble, yes? Most kids do this all of the time when playing ball! 🙂

Ok, good. Let’s keep going. 

Now… what if you were to attempt to throw that baseball, not just across the street, but to a different driveway that is three blocks away. All of a sudden, the exact angle you’d use as you attempted to throw the ball into the air becomes a LOT more critical. Because every foot or yard that the baseball travels in the air, the initial angle that you’d throw it, will inevitably become more important.
 
In fact, Al, a slight miscalculation of the angle of only 1 or 2 degrees, if you were only throwing it across the street, might not be that big of a deal. But if you were attempting to have it land in a driveway three blocks away, a 1 or 2-degree error at your release point, might result in the ball landing 100 feet (or more) from where you wanted it to land (potentially hitting another unsuspecting neighbor in the head!) Ouch!!!  🙂
 
That is, a tiny infinitesimal error of a micro-millimeter or so at the release point would become exponentially greater as the distance of your throw increased.  What seemed like such an inconsequential thing, turned into something which might end up totally changing the landing point. And thus have dramatic effects on the result.

Let’s keep going. 

What if you attempted to throw the baseball from that driveway in California, not to a neighbors driveway or to a driveway three blocks away, but …to a driveway of someone who lived in, say…the city of Chicago, which is more than 1000 miles away! 
 
I get that sounds far-fetched, but can you tell where I’m going here? 

Whether you like it or not…

…the fact is, running is really hard on your body. One mile is essentially the approximate equivalent of ~1500 one-leg squat jumps.  Every mile. Ever thought about it that way? 

My friends, that is a LOT OF chronic, repetitive load, which adds up and builds up with every step you take. Every mile. Mile after mile. 

(Believe it or not, this fact and this alone, is the reason why most runners get injured – for no other reason than this – chronic loads which are much greater and have much more profound impact, than they realize).

Here’s my point:  

  • The difference between you practicing and developing the optimal neural pathways to establish a stable trunk/core and hips on the floor at the most basic level, while you’re well rested and consciously focusing on the task at hand, is the dynamic equivalent of throwing that baseball across the street.  
  • Running even 1 or 2 miles is the equivalent of you attempting to hit Chicago with the baseball.
  • Running a half marathon or more, is likely the equivalent of you attempting to hit a driveway in NEW YORK CITY with that baseball, all of the way from that driveway in California!

Every single tiny little error in a basic fundamental movement (at the lowest dynamic loads), becomes exponentially more important and potentially harmful, at the highest dynamic loads. 

If I could help more people see and understand this simple yet profound concept about our training at the most basic level, it could change the world. I swear it’s that important.
 
And in case you haven’t already thought about this analogy and figured it out (I bet you have), this is also true at NASA, where those scientists use calculations to determine where a spaceship will land in the ocean from space.

It’s also true if golf happens to be a game you like: do you get frustrated when the tiniest error in club angle ends up sending your ball into the pond or worse? 🙂 

There’s no other way that I know of to build the kind of skills and strength that could ultimately lead to the kind of fast and sustainable performance potential at the races, that you’d love to have!    

…OR…perhaps it’s not so much about racing results. Maybe it’s simply aging gracefully without the need for a hip replacement at a too young age. While maintaining the ability to “play” until the day you go to sleep and don’t wake up. Just pick the “goal” you want to achieve.

  • Master the basics and fundamentals.
  • Build quality skills and focus on form first, then fitness, not the other way around.
  • Be accountable to them.
  • Get faster and stronger and have more fun along the way!

 To your success,
~Al