Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Like Running With a Parachute and Pulley

The title probably doesn't quite make sense right off the bat here, so let me explain.  In high school track, we used to do some drills late in the season to both build power, focus on form, and increase our top end speed.  For some of these drills, we'd use parachutes attached to a belt around the waist and run 100m sprints down the track, while the parachutes would create extra resistance and allow us to focus on technique.  Obviously, these were the form and power component of the drills.

The other drill we'd do was one in which a bungee system was attached to one person at one end of the track and one person at the other end.  By having the person pull the other, it would create the effect of forcing the person being pulled to run faster than their natural legs would have them go.  The idea was to give the body a new stimulus of running faster than it is used to, stimulating your nervous system to adjust to the new speeds.  These were short (maybe 50m), but pretty effective.

Anyways, the reason I am describing these drills is because I experienced something similar to that effect while running with Tucker yesterday.  Most of the time, he generally runs within 1 ft of me, so there is minimal tension on his leash and we are both going about the same pace.  But occasionally, this ratio gets flipped upside down.  In some cases, he's like a rock I am dragging around (not that I am forcing him to do anything, its just that he needs a little encouragement to keep up!) and in others, he's like a bolt out in front of me and pulling me along.

So I've come to the conclusion that either of these scenarios isn't necessarily a bad thing for my running.  If he is behind me, I am building strength by having a bit of extra force pulling me in the other direction, so I can focus on form and driving my legs (especially on hills).  If he is out in front, he forces me to run a bit faster than normal, but with reduced effort since the force of him pulling me encourages faster running, which has a similar nervous system effect as the bungee drills.

Makes me wonder why I didn't have a dog to run with for all these's best friend, right?


Molly @ the F-spot said...

I know all about this! My dog Argus was never a good runner. I was pretty much towing him the whole way and learned that it was good resistance training. Sadly, we had to amputate his front left leg due to bone cancer and he only lived about 9 months longer.

I've been running with friends' dogs since and many of them are the pulling variety, which gives me the opposite training benefit. It's running bliss when you can find a dog that will run right alongside you.

Either way, I love having a dog as a running partner and can't wait to get another one!

Lesser is More said...

So sorry to hear about Argus - sounds like he was a fun running partner (even if you had to drag him around town!). Good luck finding a new one - think they'd let you go for a practice run with one just to see if they are a parachute or a pulley? Either way, its a workout!


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