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Muscle Memory

For the next seven months, I’ve vowed to treat myself like the runner I know I can be. It’s fun to think about and as I mentioned earlier this week, the next few months are all about massive base building and strength training.

In the meantime, since I’m still not running, I’ve been able to get quite in tune with my body. Due to the fact I don’t have the beautiful outdoor scenery to distract me, only the same people I see every day at the gym, I’m focusing a lot more on exactly what I’m doing with my body when I move. The most important thing I’ve learned? My muscle memory is whack!

Just to give a few examples:

My right shoulder creeps up to my ear, I squeeze my left toes, and my right foot leads everything I do. I’ve also realized I do not engage my quads and hip flexors like I should. I learned this Tuesday when I did an exercise on the cable machine that required me to push back with my foot. Other than the fact that my left foot was beyond tense, (I could hardly get it to flex like I needed it to), my quads and hip flexors didn’t want to do much of anything. Then I noticed my shoulders and toes today while on the stair climber. Slowly but surely my right shoulder got closer and closer to my ear as my left toes squeezed harder and harder. It got to the point where I told myself to forget the planned intervals and just get that stupid shoulder to go down. I’m pretty sure I have some bad muscle memory going on…


Muscle memory can best be described as a type of movement with which the muscles become familiar over time. Muscle memory thus becomes an unconscious process. The muscles grow accustomed to certain types of movement. This is extremely important in different types of training for sports. The more often you do a certain activity, the more likely you are to do it as needed, when needed… This is one of the reasons that with many activities that involve the body’s muscles, like playing an instrument, learning appropriate technique is always stressed. You want your muscle memory to reflect the correct way to do things, not the incorrect way. Your muscle memory can actually play against you if you’ve constantly been practicing something the wrong way.

I really like this quote from LifeHacker:

The key to building good muscle memories is to focus on the quality of the quantity. 

Quality over quantity. Why am I too stubborn to realize this? As a runner, I’ve always been about the numbers. Pace, mileage, PRs, etc. Obviously that’s not the best habit to have. Therefore, in addition to focusing on the strength and base building over the next two months, I want to improve my muscle memory. I need to stop practicing the bad technique and perfect the good technique. My running will be thankful 🙂

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Recovery Update: My legs are still quite sore from the hip flexor strengthening exercises I did on Tuesday. However, I can tell the strength training exercises I’ve been doing are helping me to sit up straighter, engage my hip flexors, and open up my back. The overhead lunges are my new favorite exercise. I’m also starting to keep a record of all the exercises, stretches, workouts, foods, etc. that work well for me. I need to remember how these exercises make me feel and why they are beneficial for my running. If not, I’ll soon be back to where I am now. Injured.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I used to be the same way about strength training, focused on getting the reps done quickly and a lot of them. I’ve found it far more useful to be “mindful” and slow as I work out – the gains come more quickly the slower you move, even if it’s a lower quantity. Though for some power-building exercises, speed actually does help – the point is knowing what you are trying to accomplish in a given exercise or workout – which is true for running workouts as well.

    March 14, 2013
  2. Muscle memory is in the brain; the motor control center to be precise. If you continue to train & strengthen dysfunction that’s what will continue to be your result; pain & injury. Practice makes PERMENATE ( maybe permentate compensation…). Hard training during this time of your injury recovery will not help in your return to healthy running. Mobility before Stabilty; Stabilty before Movement; Movement before Strength. Best wishes,

    March 15, 2013

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