Well, you knew it was only a matter of time before the old coach had photo evidence of his Inverhuron Beach (on the shores of Lake Huron) water, shoreline and sand dune barefoot running drills. On the weekend of July 22, it finally happened. Courtesy of photos taken by my daughter, Kate, there is proof positive that I not only do the drills BUT I survive them to train another day!As you can see above, I started in the deep, soft, hot sand to fully activate my body from the feet up. You’ll notice the perfect running posture, relaxed hands ready to lead the arms powerfully forward, the squared up shoulders nice and still, the bent knee action to protect the knees and hips and the powerful flicking action of my left foot that helps generate my forward-driving power. You’ll also note the right foot position in the sand – in perfect alignment under my knee, hip and shoulder – that guarantees safe, efficient, powerful running. These are the pillars of my Squat-Scoot technique.Notice in the above shot my powerful forward drive off the right foot with the left ready to land on the mid foot, thus saving energy and increasing propulsion. I have a slight forward lean to counter the above-normal resistance of the deeper sand.The frontal shot shows my hips squaring up in line with my shoulders, thus guaranteeing no wasted motion nor torquing that can result in imbalance injuries. The rear shot below more specifically shows the forward lean to compensate for the ultra-deep sand. Even with that, you will notice the perfect line of my back, indicating powerful extensor chain muscle activation. This ensures better posture and balance with less risk of impact injury. You will also notice the squared up shoulders in perfect line with my hips. I then progressed to the beach shoreline to run over the hard sand and pebbles. This
serves to further toughen my feet and improve my reactivity to different surfaces without risk of twisting an ankle or knee. Notice that even on the angle of the beach into the water, I keep perfectly aligned and driving forward – no easy feat (pardon the pun!) in such conditions. From there, I ventured out to knee-deep water in rolling waves to better activate my calves, quads , gluteals and hip flexors. My arm drive becomes more important in leading the body forward with power against the heavier water resistance. It’s amazing how fatiguing this is – within a few minutes, I am usually totally wasted aerobically and muscularly BUT what a great feeling the next day…in a sick sort of way!!As I got deeper in the lake, the rip tide and power of the waves started to take a toll on my body BUT, as you can notice in the photo above, I still kept perfect form. This is not easy BUT the positive carryover effect into ‘normal’ surface running is significant. When driving through water this deep and powerful, you MUST forward lean slightly if you hope to get from A to B!!
I finished the session with my favourite drills on the infamous sand dunes of Inverhuron. I started with forward up and down running (see above), keeping the eyes no more than 1 metre ahead and the chest leaning up the hill. Note my landing foot (in this case, the left) hits behind my mid line to improve upward momentum and decrease the braking effect of the legs. I followed that with 1 legged hoppingdown and up, switching legs after each repeat. This is not the most difficult drill on the planet BUT it’s DAMN close. It helps me lock in my body, improve my balance, strengthen my feet muscles and activate my pelvic girdle complex – virtually eliminating the risk of any ‘itis’ running injuries.Moving on to the leg crossover drill is always a challenge after the 1-legged drill. I find that it helps activate my synergistic (support) running muscles in a way that no other form of sand dune running can do so efficiently. You will notice in the shots below that this requires more forward leaning and squatting to maintain balance and perfect crossover form. This is difficult to do on a flat surface let alone up and down sand dunes – in rather HOT sand at that – oh, and, barefoot, of course!As the sand gets deeper, the ability to keep driving up the dune becomes more challenging. Notice the way my left leg actually is buried and sliding slightly down the dune. This requires me to pull up faster and lean more aggressively up or down the dune. Sand is the great equalizer – there’s no doubt!!!
If I can do these at age 63 to ensure safe, efficient, powerful running as the perfect way to keep physically and mentally fit, the rest of you (and beyond!) can join me. At the end of the day, there are truly NO excuses.