Running against Entropy

Entropy is the single most defining feature of the universe so it’s utterly unavoidable. The best description I’ve heard is that the universe is like a gigantic waterfall of increasing entropy (disorder) with the spray being all that is creative and organised. When people become depressed it’s probably because they perceive the hopelessness of the overwhelming odds of entropy. Organisation and creativity go together – it’s just that one is a pure battle against entropy and the other involves novelty. Slaves are very good for handling entropy – so I guess that’s why accountants and lawyers are forced to develop (or have to begin with) a slavish sort of mind. The trouble is that you can’t be creative without being organised. My tool boxes tend to appear to be chaotic and disorganised – but I know intuitively where everything is kept – even years after last using things. It’s the daily things like keys that get lost because there is so much distraction. Saying that, I pretty much know where everything is without spending large tracts of time pretending to be better organised. I guess it’s about working out the payoff from time put in fighting entropy with respect to the gains in creativity – finding that sweet spot that lets you stay in the spray. When a runner joins the 60% of other runners injured each year – then entropy has won. We love to run – but how much energy do we put aside for organising our running mechanics? We don’t have to be slaves to this process – but we need to be able to know where everything is – what all the body parts are doing and what the whole is doing. Einstein may have been a bumbling plagiarist and manufactured product of Zionism  – and got “relativity” utterly wrong – but he did have some good moments. He pointed out that the state of a person’s desk surface reflects his state of mind. His desk was always a major mess – but what is the mind like of someone who’s desk is empty? The runner who’s “desk is empty” is the runner who simply runs against the clock and using power and force – and so ends up injured. For the past two months I’ve been trying to get my running sorted out after abandoning it completely since last year . I was amazed to feel like I simply couldn’t run – utterly useless – and focusing on technique didn’t change this. About three weeks ago I took 1hr 18mins for a 10k and even after that suffered from delayed onset muscle soreness (doms) in the legs – particularly the calves due to the barefoot technique. I persisted with pushing through progressively increasing the distance or pace and going through the resultant pain and uselessness that follows for several days. Yesterday I was at last able to run “properly” – 10k in 53 mins with a 4min kilometre to finish – and no doms, just fatigue from the increased load. During the process of starting to run again I genuinely felt that running had become impossible so it’s interesting to see how persistence changes things and how persisting with technique is also now paying off… The day previously when hiking Christiane mentioned during climbing that the Achilles tendon stretched quite a lot with the flat shoes. I realised that mine wasn’t stretching because I was pulling back the knee during the leg extension – so it felt just right. I explained to Christiane that when stretching the soleus (below the calf) as an exercise you keep the heel on the ground with the foot behind and leg extended behind and then bend the ankle and knee to isolate the soleus and Achilles. Christiane initially disagreed but after thinking about it she went quiet. I then pointed out that if the knee goes back during the extension then it reduces the stretch on the soleus and the flex of the ankle as the body moves forwards. Yesterday I thought about that in running and realised that probably the soleus/Achilles doms problems I get are caused because of not extending the knee back far enough. (It’s not hyper extension – just getting rid of all the forwards flex). I feel now that I can really start to work out what is happening with the muscles and coordination when I’m running – it’s beginning to make sense to me – after several years of inquiry. During the hiking climb it’s the first time I’ve felt that bending forwards at the hip was not a good thing to do. The extension of the leg, working from the centre outwards – core – hip – glutes – hamstrings – quads – knee – calves – ankle – feet – made me appreciate standing upright when climbing for the first time ever! I notice that when people are injured podiatrists look at the problem from the foot upwards – never from the centre! I think that’s what causes most of the persistent problems and injuries in running. When running faster yesterday I thought of the movement starting around the navel (relaxing the lower abdomen to breathe in and contracting when completing the exhalations). Pelvis is held up at the front and tucked in without tensing up the hips – so that the abdomen can relax during breathing without posture being affected. The leg lands slightly flexed with the front of the heel contacting the ground just under the body. The pelvis starts to rotate around the spine, hip moving backwards – right up to the rib cage. The glutes and hamstrings extending the hip – then fractionally later the quads join in to extend the knee. The rebound comes when the cadence is increased and the whole thing feels like single fluid movement. When the leg is properly extended like this – reaching behind the body then you naturally don’t reach ahead with it during the recovery. The key to getting the stride right seems to be in getting a proper extension out of the whole leg towards the rear. Once again the Achilles doesn’t feel any stretch even with the heel on the ground to the last moment – same as in climbing.
My last Km was almost at 15kph and I still didn’t red line with the heart! Now I could manage 17kph before so that’s not unusual – but I would have been totally red lining even with much greater running fitness. It’s going to be interesting to see where this leads now. (Might have to appropriate some of this for the blog…) Running is a battle against entropy! Just a little bit of work organising the body gives a massive payoff. Most runners get injured due to entropy winning the battle – the key being that they don’t spare any energy at all for organising – they are only focused on power and performance instead of efficiency. You know when you are “surfing in the spray” of what Erwin Shrodinger called “negative entropy” because that’s when perceptions start to really change. You start to get intelligent feedback from your body that lets you know what is happening between all the parts – in a meaningful way. You start to listen to your body and learn from it. Chi-running is the key to the battle against entropy. (The reason I’d stopped running was due to demoralization stemming from long endurance cycling. That problem was sorted out by changing nutrition – notably consuming 90g of maltodextrin and fructose 2:1 ratio per hour during training and racing. Performance in long endurance has turned around and training now has an energizing effect instead.)

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