It’s a 55 degree spring-like day in January and I suggest to my client that we jog outside for a warm-up. Being a 3-5 day a week runner she obliges and we go.
We maintain the same pace, step for step until the last hill. I yell, “let’s go!” and as I accelerate she fades. I lose her at the very end.
This client of mine runs almost three times a much as I do and uses a variety of apps, trackers and runner toys to help get the most out of her run. I, on the other hand, like to "run naked", using my phone and running apps sparing only when I want to become a little distracted from my run.
Many of us use music to stay motivated or pedometers to track our steps. Tracking devices are used to calculate the exact distance of our run. Heart rate monitors are used to more accurately calculate our caloric expenditure. A variety of apps are used to effect the cadence and frequency of our steps. These devices serve to improve our run however, they can become counterproductive. While fitness devices are helpful they can shift your focus from the physical run to the statistical detail. Running naked on the other hand encourages you to focus less on the device and more on the run.
As a track and field All American, we always ran naked. It was extremely important to pay close attention to your body and the intricacies of running. The placement of your foot, the range of motion in your arms, and the pace in which you breathe all play a major role in speed, efficiency and endurance. While a tracker might help me go faster or run longer, the efficiency at which I do so can be compromised by not paying attention to the details of my body.
There is no question that my client was in better running shape than I. She had more miles, more conditioning and more recent experience running than I did. Where I gained the advantage was being able to engage and "tap into my run." This is a term that I like to use that means you are completely engaged and focused on the mechanics of your run. Tapping into your run is virtually impossible with the inference of your fitness device or tracker but completely attainable running naked (without one). After years of training as an athlete, "tapping into your run" becomes a second nature necessity.
As my client and I begin to approach the hill, I re-position my core into a slight forward lean. I lift my knees higher to engage more hip-flexor up the hill and drive my elbows back more to compliment my knee lift. I thoughtfully inhale four exact strides and as I exhale I exaggerate my movements and sprint, tapping into my run.
Although I will often listen to my Apple Music A-List Hip Hop (love it), the Dan Patrick Show (I'm a sports buff), or set up intervals on my own tracker, I make it a point to run naked for a quarter of my runs. I encourage you to do the same. Ultimately, the attention to detail that you pay to yourself and not your tracker will determine how effective, efficient and fast your run will be.