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!


ReriVeritas said...

Hey Beautiful Woman!

Wow. Very well said. You are an amazing leader, and it takes a bit of humility to be that, in my opinion.

Sounds like you're going to smoke us all even better now!

Thanks for the ACK regarding my pull-up PR. Glad you'll be at O-lift. I think I'm going to do Tuesday nights with Eric and Wednesay nights with Nathan, although that's not set in stone.

I may even rotate both, as I enjoy them both so much as Coaches.

You go, girl!

Trail Runner Con Dios said...

Having to really look at ourselves is always a humbling experience. I don't know why, but it's so easy for me to fall into a false self-image that is either better than or worse than reality. Even with knowing intellectually the reality of my squat form, whenever I see it in a mirror or photo I am humbled all the way down to my toes... but you know, it also makes me very grateful to be such a stubborn Taurus!

Striving for virtuosity in almost any area is a lifelong pursuit... there will ALWAYS be ways we can improve.

Take heart my friend, you are a phenomenal runner and will only get better in your pursuit of excellence.

Lead The Way Coach Langevin. You are a wonderful example for this intern. Thank you!

ReriVeritas said...

Hey Honey!
I'm responding to your comment on my marathon blog post.
Amen! I'm sorry about the trouble you were having with your leg. Yes, after mile 19, it was VERY unforgiving. I did a lot of reading afterwards, and apparently hitting "The Wall" is the norm.
It appears that the only real way to avoid it is to train at longer that's just what we're going to have to do, huh?

Excellent job, Hope!!!! WE DID IT!!!