"You hear about how runnin' ultras is all mental; well, I sure wish it'd hurry up and get mental, 'cause it's feelin' awfully physical right now." - Ken LovelessOne of the tips I like to give as we get into our longer runs is on form. New runners come into the training program with preconceived thoughts that I'm going to take them by the hand and thus, by teaching them how to run, a marathon will be easy. Well, there's 3 mistakes in that sentence - first, I'm not going to take you anywhere...you're going to take yourself towards that finish line. I'll give you tips and tell you how to make this marathon thing more efficient nutritionally, mentally, and physically, but YOU have to do the work. Second, I'm not going to teach you HOW to run. You've been doing that since you learned how to climb out of that crib that your parents put you in to get a break from you for a while. Running, next to walking, is probably one of the most natural things you do. I just have to teach you how to do it for a long time! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Don't fiddle with Father Nature. And third, a marathon is never easy, but through our training program we will make this difficult task a whole lot more pleasant.Now, to get back to form...the whole thing is be as efficient as possible. In other words, we're going to expend a ton of energy along 26 miles, so let's not waste any. We're not trying to overcome gravity, we're trying float as smoothly along as gravity will allow us. If you live on Earth (and MOST of the runners I know I'm sure live here, but I'm not sure they came from here), gravity wants to pull you DOWN, so bouncing up and down wastes precious energy. The higher you bounce up, the more force you have to absorb when you come back down. This is bad unless you own a shoe company and then it makes it easier to sell those cushioned shoes. One way to work on decreasing that pesky bounce is to picture your feet just gliding barely off the ground (don't trip). Try to run "quietly" - it's almost like ice skating (I'm sure that's a great example in Alabama). Think of pushing off with the ball of your foot more than the whole leg. Finally, the most efficient posture for long distance runners is straight up - balanced over your hips and feet, not leaning forward. If you lean forward, your center of gravity is way in front of you, and, your body has to chase it like the greyhounds chase that fake rabbit at the track. Your back has to tighten up to keep you from falling forward, you crunch your diaphragm which limits your breathing, and you actually shorten your stride. Jeff Galloway likes to have you picture yourself suspended from a string, like a puppet, that goes through your head, shoulders, hips and feet - whatever works. The point is to make your body work with you and not against you.So, you don't have to go crazy trying to constantly think of keeping your form most efficient, or changing the way you run, but thinking of some of these methods during every run that will develop a habit that will definitely get you to straighten up and fly right.Running straighter, I'll see you down the road - Al"One child lost is too many...one child saved can change the world"