Monday, February 23, 2009

Revisting Virtuosity

Virtuosity is defined in gymnastics as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, supremely elusive. It is, however, readily
recognized by audience as well as coach and athlete. But more importantly,
more to my point, virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery
(and of genius and beauty).
(Greg Glassman-Head Coach, Crossfit). (Image from

On Sunday 2/22 I participated in my third running clinic. This clinic was conducted entirely by Coach LeClair. We were put through various drills for improved running mechanics, we were filmed and critiqued and we tested what we had learned in challenging workout at the track.

What I came away with today was a rather large slice of “humble pie”.

I have run quite a few races in the past five years. I have gotten faster, I’ve done well with divisional placement and earned a few medals. However, what I saw today on my running film was not the form of a good runner, it was mediocre. When my first run was viewed and hurt. Here I sat, one of our “better runners’, someone whom others look to for help. In my defense, I often do know what to do, and I can spot most gross form faults and offer corrections. However, when it comes to “fixing” myself, my problem is no different from everyone else’s..that is connecting my brain with my body so that my body does what I want it to do.

It only took me about a minute to get over initial “ouch” (ego wound) because I wanted to really hear and understand what I needed to do to improve. So, swallowing my piece of “humble pie” was good medicine. I listened, kept working, did some things better and still need to work on others.

Coach LeClair asked us the question, “can you keep running like you are?” The answer is yes, but clearly we should not. The answer for me is obvious, because while I have become a stronger runner, a faster runner, I still suffer with various “aggravations” that are not going away. I am concerned about this, seriously concerned. I want to compete in longer runs; I have a marathon coming up in less than a month. I want a healthy run, I want to run injury free, and I want to run for as long as I can, therefore, my bio-mechanics need correction…period.

“There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art,
whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or compete in gymnastics, to
quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more
sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s
curse—the rush to originality and risk. "

While I might not be consider a “novice” runner because of how long I’ve been running, my lack of sound bio-mechanics says otherwise. What the film tells me is that I have forgotten some of my basics...and I know they were there. I can feel during a run when I finally "get it", running actually does become more effortless. What I need is CONSISTENTLY good form, which means quelling the compulsion to go faster than my form can take me, not allowing my anxiousness for speed turn me into a sloppy heel striker. they say, back to basics: drills and more drills and out comes the “tempo trainer” little beeping buddy.

I want to excel in Virtuosity!