“Shuffle, Don’t Bounce”

30 10 2007

When I joined the 1st City of Angels Half-Marathon Race in Los Angeles last December 4, 2006 with my daughter, I observed that she was “bouncing” during the run. “Bouncing” means that you are pushing much of your legs after your foot hits the ground. In effect, the whole body is bouncing as you run, creating extra effort to your legs, knees and body. Sometimes, bouncing creates a semblance of being suspended on the air for a half of a second before your leading foot strikes the ground. Well, I didn’t mind her style of running while we were on the race but I encouraged her to increase her speed and maintain her cadence and breathing rythym on the last 3-4 miles before the finish line.

Immediately after the race, she was happy that she was able to improve her PR best time for the distance by 12 minutes. I congratulated her for the determination she had shown despite for the reason that she just had her “monthly visitor” (which she told me only after the race!). Anyway, while we were walking back to home (our house is 2-3 miles away from LA City Hall), I told her about her tendency to “bounce” during running.

Of course, she told me that she is not “bouncing” when she runs. I described and demonstrated how she was “bouncing” while running. I also demonstrated to her how to “shuffle” while running. I suggested and recommended to her to adopt the “shuffle” style of running.

Basically, I am a “shuffler”. Shuffling means that a runner does not need to raise his/her knees too much in the air and the foot should not be ahead of the knees while running. It is an exaggerated trotting of the feet with the ball of the feet or heel hitting much of the ground. This is the most relaxing way to run with the knees not being forced to exert extra effort. It takes time to practice and adopt this kind of running. But for me, this is the best running style I recommend for runners training for their first marathon.

My running models in marathon in the ’80s; Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar, Robert de Castella, Toshihiko Seko,  Steve Jones, and Waldemar Cierpinski; were all “shufflers”.

My God, I am really that old and bald if you don’t know these famous marathoners in the past!!!


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