Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Physics - Part Deaux

Where the head goes, the body will follow.

It's a basic principle, but, oh so, applicable in many ways.

For instance, in learning a full-twisting back flip (aka a "full"). So that's a back flip in the layout position (imagine you are lying on the ground on your back, legs straight and flat out -- but instead you are in the air like that) with a 360-degree twist in it before your feet hit the ground again.

The prep (unless you are doing a standing full where you just jump from a complete standstill into the air backwards and do it, which I could NEVER do) is a round-off backhandspring and then you throw the back full on the end.

So, if you start out facing North, let's say, you do your roundoff and backhandspring which turns you 180 degrees so you are now facing South but with northward momentum. (make sense? stay with me...). Now comes the tricky part.

Through both arms up, parallel to your body, but stopping them when the are directly straight up and down, tight to your ears. This combined with the punch of the floor from your legs gives you your vertical force. Now, first inclination is that, hey - I'm doing a back flip so I'm going to look back with my head. DON'T DO IT! Where the head goes the body will follow. Throw your head back and you will take a swan dive straight back into the ground, my friend. (Been there, done that -- hurts like a son of a bitch). To keep your vertical momentum going, you have to keep your head in line with your body, in a mostly neutral position, but with your chin tucked to your chest...this keeps your core tight and straight and keeps the flight plan on track.

To initiate the back flip rotation, all it takes is a small pull with the toes and the abs, like you are in the roman chair doing a leg lift, you know? You don't have to pull alot, you already have a ton of backward momentum from the roundoff backhandspring, so you just need a little bitty bit. Too much and you end up whipping over to quickly, over rotate and find yourself doing a one and a quarter...flat ass on your back on the ground. (Been there, done that -- hurts like a son of a bitch).

Now the fun part, and it's all in the head. When you first learn fulls, you usually start with a late full -- doing the twist after you are at least upside down in the air and on your way down -- versus an early full -- doing the twist on the way up into the apex of the flip. To initiate the 360 axial rotation, all you do is look for it.

The principle is simple. Where the head goes, the body will follow. Turn your head, your body will turn. Yep, that's it. Just turn your head. I was an outside twister, so I would look over my right shoulder, HARD. The keys here are OVER and RIGHT. If you look down and to the right, guess what happens? Exactly, flight plan follows the head and you become a human drill into the ground. (Been there, done that -- hurts like a son of a bitch).

The harder the snap, the quicker the twist. When your body gets to 270 degrees, you should see the front again, where you started your twist. That's where you want your body to stop, so once you see it, set your head there (quit looking over your shoulder) and your body will slow the rotation and stop (with a little core help also..). There's your full twist. To help with rotation, you can also simply take your left arm (away from the touchdown position it was in..) and punch across your body towards your armpit (they same arm that your head is looking over). This will speed up your spin too.

Need a double twist? Punch and look harder, do one rev on the way up, one on the way down.

Now, applying that to running. A fellow engineer, uber-geek, gear-whore, physics-taking dork running friend of mine was discussing the physics of running. And we talked about head and upper body position as it relates to gaining speed while running. I tend to be a straight up and down runner which isn't exactly conducive to speed. A simple press of the head and chest (keeping the head neutral of looking down...) causes you to lean forward just a bit...and guess what, the rest of your body will follow....the legs will catch go faster! Where the head goes, the body will follow.

I knew this intuitively, because personally the difference between jogging and running for me is usually my body position. I jog straight up, when I want to run hard, I lean forward. Fact: when I lean forward and run, it is 7:30's or less. I distinctly remember running the IBM 10K that way. I just kept thinking lean, lean, lean.

I'd kinda forgotten about that as lately so much focus has been on the distance and not speed. (Dang is it hard to work on both at the same time...sigh...).

I practiced that yesterday during my run. I just kept thinking, where my head goes, my body will follow..lean, lean. And guess what? Banged out my first every sub-7 mile during mile 3! 6:49 to be exact! WOOT!

The principles are all the same. Look backward, you will go backward. Look forward, you will go forward. Look down, you will go down. Look up, you will go up. And every now and then, you may need a little extra umph to get you to turn.

Where the head goes, the body will follow.


Mark said...

Congrats on the sub-7:)
In one guise, what you've rediscovered is Rogue Coach Karen's ChiRunning and one of its aspects: your gears are your lean:) Use gravity to propel you forwards, not muscle power:)

Kris said...

Congratulations, Dionn, that's a huge milestone!