The Kinetic Chain

We’ve all heard that the body is a kinetic chain, but have you ever thought about your life, emotions, and training as a kinetic chain?  The body kinetic chain is an easy concept to grasp – everything is connected.

We all remember the little  song we were taught back in elementary school…

“The foot bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the head bone”

But how does the life-mental-training kinetic chain work?.  When you are preparing for a training run whether it is a track workout, easy run, or a long slow distance run all facets of  your life have an impact on the run.  My last weekends run is a classic example of the chain working perfectly.

Last week I was suffering with a head and chest cold, so I was run down, on some great cold medication, and was not able to run until March 24.  My first run of the week was an easy 5-miler to see if my head and chest congestion was gone, this run would dictate how I’d train the rest of  the week.  The run went ok, but not great – I was more tired from coughing than actually running but I got through it and decided I could run 5-miles on Friday.

On Friday I decided I would do a 5-mile loop along the Golden Gate Bay.  Feeling much better, I decided it would be fun to do some tempo running.  When I finished the run, it was one of the fastest 5-mile runs I’ve been on in awhile, I felt ready for my 5-hour Saturday run. My confidence was soaring.

5:30 AM Saturday morning arrives and I climb out of bed, feeling a little congested and sore from Friday.  I still felt confident that I’d loosen up over the next 5-hours, so  I packed up my camelback and headed out the door.  I should mention that on Friday afternoon my running partner called me up to say he wouldn’t be able to join me- something about a work conference (keep this in mind for later).  The first few miles I lumbered through, trying to work out the kinks and it seemed to be working.  All was well until I hit the Arguello Hill into the Presidio.   At that point, my body seemed to tighten up in every muscle.  I took a quick walk break and  started running again, my body re-energized as I ran along the Pacific Ocean and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a beautiful sunny morning.

Physical feelings aside, my mental state was not cooperating.  I called my wife and asked her to meet me so I could change into dry clothes and re-fuel (I suppose I was lonely without my running buddy to chat with).  At this point, I was 2.5 hours into my run.  After a brief break I started running again,  but by body was tightening up and getting stiff again.  The tightness was bearable, but the most difficult part came when the wind suddenly shifted into a headwind, pushing against me with each step I took.  I knew I would have to run the remaining 2.5 hours directly into the wind.  At the 3 hour mark, I the mental challenge became defeating.  Running alone and into the wind, it didn’t matter what mental games I played, I was losing this battle.  Finally, as I reached the Ferry Building to refuel, I had a decision to make.  Do I run the last 6-miles or call for a ride home?  Running alone, into the wind,  sore from the Friday night, and being sick all week had taken its toll. I was done – I dialed my wife, and shortly she showed up to take me home.

Making the phone call was very difficult for me to do since I’m typically not one to give up.  In my mind it was a sign of weakness and failure.  As I waited for my wife to pick me up I made a few phone calls to my running friends, desperately seeking advice about why I failed.  After complaining to them for a few minutes they brought me back to earth.  Here is the perspective they gave me;

First- I was sick all week: why did I decide to run in the first place? Second, I ran hard on Friday night, not giving my body a full 24-hours to recover.   My legs and body were tired.  Third, I am used to running with friends on my long runs and when left alone with no one to help me though the tough spots.  Finally, taking everything into consideration, they told me I should be happy with the fact I was able to run 3.5 hours, next week will be a better day.

So whats my point?  What we do in our lives physically, emotionally, and mentally all play a very important role in our training – this what I call the Life – Mental-Training Kinetic Chain.  Running affects (and is affected by) all aspects of your life.  If you’re a runner, you know exactly what I mean…


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