Slide and kick

Looking to the east this morning, the fog hovered in the distance as the temperature, in the low 50s, tempted me to get out for a run with Riley.

With warm morning temperatures most of the past 2 months, Riley hasn’t been out running with me very often. Instead, his exercise has been relegated to quick midweek dips in the lake and some extended weekend play dates in the water.

Riley and I after finishing our morning run.

When I moved to Bemidji, I looked for a home near the edge of town – either in or out of city limits, it didn’t really matter to me – so I could have some good running routes away from traffic. On mornings like this one, I’m thankful for that decision.

Riley and I headed out on our run, enjoying the cool morning and basking in the early sun light. Sometimes the pure joy of running helps my mind go blank, while other times I try to figure things out on the run. If I wear headphones, I normally have a slow run. I just don’t run well while wearing headphones, and my pace suffers – and in turn I end up feeling beaten up on longer runs.

But I also sometimes think about running form, and there’s one trick that seems to work for me: On each foot landing, I think about sliding my foot across the asphalt and trying to kick my butt with the back of my shoe. Inevitably, it seems, my pace is quicker. This motion of scuffing my shoe across the ground propels me forward, and eliminates excessive forward lean that lends itself to a braking motion. It’s my “slide and kick” routine. It doesn’t take more energy, but sometimes it takes more mental focus – I’ll go weeks without thinking about it and then need to reintegrate it into my form.

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