Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Catch

So, recovery from the Chicago Marathon proceeds apace. I have a few pulls here and there (calf, left shoulder) that I think have more to do with doing less and not stretching enough than they have to do with running the Marathon.

Yesterday I took a group of students running, and I was focussing on form rather than speed.  Today I cross trained and, on the bike and in the pool I was focussing on a smooth pedal and swim stroke.  It occurred to me that in all three disciplines, a (the) key to a smooth and efficient stroke/stride was timing "the catch."  This is more obviously and traditionally a part of the wisdom on swim technique.  The stroke is divided into the glide, catch and pull.  But the same is true on the bike, as your foot hits the bottom of the stroke, you pull back, engaging the hamstring.  That little pull back is the difference between pounding like a piston and a smooth circular pedal stroke -- stomping v. spinning.  I didn't really realize until recently that the same is true with running.  How smoothly does your foot transition from landing (toe/midfoot/heel) to catching and pulling you back. Ideally the plant and the catch are virtually simultaneous.

In all three disciplines, the catch is where the stroke/stride shifts from getting into position and/or shock absorption to transmitting power.  Timing "the catch" makes a huge difference.  In the swim, you suddenly notice yourself moving steadily (rather than choppily) through the water.  On the bike, your hips pivot slightly forward, your legs relax, and the power transition seems natural.  Running, suddenly the stride gets smooth.

Does this make sense? Am I making it up? Max??


  1. The catch and slide so so so important in rowing too. Even more than the stroke!

  2. Timing really affects how much energy pushes you forward and how much gets wasted. In the run, it also seems to affect how much "vertical" energy gets absorbed by the body and how much gets transferred into forward motion. .