Today is a good day. I've been out for about a week with some tendonitis on the top of my right foot, but yesterday was the first day with no pain and so today was the first day out running. I went out for a hilly 10k (apparently with a category 4 and category 5 climb thrown in, but who's counting?) and I got it.
Since I haven't been able to go out, you know, actually running this week, I've been thinking a lot about it. Watching technique videos, reading all of you lovely people's thoughts and activities, mentally going through drills that I want to try, soaking it up (I'm still not a serious runner though, ok?).
I hit the road and although I started out treading carefully on my right foot, watching out for any hint of tendon pain (I'd decided I'd stop the minute I got any - I'm not sitting out another week), I was pleasantly surprised and seemed to be running stronger than I was at the end of last week. My confidence boosted, I shoved my hands around the back of my head, as I think Eric mentioned somewhere on the site recently, and got myself into a good, upright stance. I've been doing a bit more core work in the gym lately and running like this I felt, I dunno... solid, I guess. I got myself used to that position for a few minutes and then managed to carry it through with my arms back in a regular position - and it felt good.
The same thing happened when I shifted my attention to making sure I was 'running with my groin'. I'm fairly sure my knee-lift's been ok up to now, but focusing on this really made it happen with a lot less direct effort and concentration (I hope that makes sense). This worked especially well on a couple of the long uphills in the first half of the route, even if I did have to pull myself up a couple of times and remind myself of my posture. On steeper climbs in the past, I've almost felt like I was running with my shoulders too much (picture a computer game character climbing a ladder), but today my upper-body stance stayed pretty constant across the different inclines.
Then, at around the 5km mark, the 'getting it' happened. Everything clicked into place - I suddenly realised I was in a good, strong, upright stance; my breathing was controlled and regular; I nailed a good cadence and I was definitely driving from my hips. Totally in the zone. I'm not sure I'll be taking a week off from running intentionally any time soon, but I read somewhere that mentally practicing, running through drills etc, can be as effective as physical practice - it definitely seems like there's some truth in this.
Aaand, in other news, I've entered my first competitive race. It's a half at the end of September and I cannot wait.