Preparation For Running
The process of running right is becoming increasing important for runners wanting to run long distances or to improve their running effeciency. You see some pretty amazing running styles in running events or just out on the street, and often correcting just a couple of things can be the difference between running all your life or having to give running away due to constant pain or injury.
I was once told I have a perfect running gait, considering I have never suffered an injury from running that may be true, but that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from aches, pains and fatigue when I am running, especially on long distances when I am pretty tired and over it.
The good news is even if you have a bad running gait (if there is such a thing) or the weirdest running style, it doesn’t mean you have to give running away, or start again from scratch, it usually just means you may be doing one of two things wrong that are easy to correct.
Many of the things we are doing wrong in running are just from bad habit. We started running, let our body get into a bit of a rhythm, didn’t think much about posture or style. But now after a few years of running or you have goals to increase your distances you are finding things are getting niggly and painful.
We can all change bad habits, in fact I bet several times over your life you have corrected or cured yourself of a bad habit. Did you do it in a day? Did you do it easily? Probably not. You may have had to work at it for a while, remind yourself to do it and then persevere. The same applies to your running posture, each time you are out here, you need to be thinking about the way you should be running and then making the small changes that will get you running right.
I have listed some things below that you can easily do when you are running to improve your running posture and efficiency, and even me with my perfect gait, I do these things constantly when running.
Yeahh I know… when you are trying hard to push through to the next km, sweating, body moaning, mind whinging, and then she says Relaxxxxxxxxxx!
But tension in your body whilst you are running can really inhibit your natural flow, restrict muscles from moving freely and cause problems during and after you run.
When I was training for my remedial massage diploma, my tutor constantly told us students there are two words you never say to a client ‘Just Relax’, she claimed just hearing those two words caused tension right through the body.
There is one way to stop doing what you are doing, change what you are doing! But saying it doesn’t work, so create a trigger for yourself. For me, its three long slow breaths out, by the time I have done that, I find I am a lot more relaxed. It feels like the tension just leaves my body with each breath. I try to do this everytime I am feeling tight and just over it.
If your tension is through your neck and shoulders, which it often is, lift your shoulders high to your ears and then let them drop slowly down until they are back and down as far as they can go. Drop your arms down to your side and shake them out...all these things change what you are doing and take the tension out of your body. Once you find the trigger that helps you relax, use it at every km or 5mins, about 10 times on your run or more.
Try smiling! No not a horrible, toothy grimace that makes little children go screamming to their mothers, but a real smile. A smile will relax your face and send a trigger to your brain that you are happy, the brain will pass that message onto the rest of your body. So smile every mile!
Its often the return trip when we are more tired and fatigued and tension is at its worst, so on the way back get your Relax trigger happening big time!
Shorten your Stride
I’m always saying it and it really works. Big loping movements wear you out and throw out your line of posture. Little movements conserve energy and keep all your body in sync .
Long strides in running can cause lots of postural problems. When you widen your stride, your heel is more likely to strike the ground first and believe it or not that creates a breaking action, so you may feel you are running faster but the heel causes you to brake a bit.
The long strides also cause fatigue, you tire quicker, so you may start off feeling like you are zooming along, but after a while you cannot maintain the energy to keep the big stride, so you lose speed. Striding out causes your hips to have to move too much also, they are there to stabilise you, so they need a shorter stride to keep everything balanced.
Each foot that lands should be under you. You are probably saying well how do I move forward that is like running on the spot? It’s not, by the time your foot has landed a short stride your body has moved forward to over the top of that foot, which is the way it should be.
Each time one foot connects with the ground it’s called a foot strike. The top runners in the world aim to strike the ground 180-200 times per minute. Try testing your own. Start to run normally, once warmed up, set your stop watch to zero, then count every time your right foot hits the ground for one minute, then double it. This figure is your foot strike rate. Under 180? Try shortening your stride, so smaller steps, and more ground contact.
Get off your heels
Heel striking is one of the biggest causes of injury in runners, so stop running on them! One of the reasons bare foot running is becoming so popular, is that there is no way you would land on your heel first if you were running barefoot…ouch that would hurt too much. The reason we do it in shoes is our feet are so padded up , they don’t have to think about it so let any old part of the foot hit the ground first.
The widest part of your foot (midfoot) is your landing pad. Your whole foot does touch the ground every step you take, but it’s the order of the landing thats most important. The midfoot strikes first, so it takes the brunt, then the heel goes down second and hits lightly and then we raise back up on the toes to go forward again. Like all parts of your body each has a role, so try to think, mid/heel/toe when running
Put your Hips in Charge
Do your poor hips chase your feet up hill and down dale for miles and miles…your big powerful hips that stabilise your lower body taking orders from those little upstarts!
Put your hips in charge of the whole operation and I bet you find they do a great job in creating a better running posture for you.
I say to my runners in the warm-up phase of our Ho Hum Runs, no one is to get in front of me, well give your hips the same power. Visualise them being in charge, tell them to take control. Let them be the school teacher in your body class ‘Where do you think you are going you two legsters, get back here, ‘Come on Mr backside your lagging behind, keep up’ , ‘Hey tootsies, get in under here so I can keep a close eye on you lot”, No one can do anything unless the hip gives permission.
When you are running, let your hips go forward, keep your legs under them and your feet under your legs….one way to tell if your feet are getting too far in front is how much of your shoes can you see, it should be only the toes. So keep an eye on them, when they are too far in front your whole body is out of whack, bring them into line.
Once again this needs to be checked every km until all body parts are obeying the hips, if not put the naughty ones in detention...they will soon learn how to behave.
Don’t Lift, Fall
Running is all about moving forward, not up and down and not side to side, but in a straight line going forward.
I often see what I call the Tigger runners, bouncing along, knees high, heels kicking up, its looks great, but I’m afraid the body doesn’t go in for all the fancy stuff, what it really wants is to stay close to the ground and move forward
Would you let your smallest athletes be your weight lifter in your Olympic team? Probably not. Well stop letting your littlest body part lift up your hulking bulk every 10th of a second, not once but thousands of times! Your feet are your landing pads and they are incredibly strong for the size of them, but it’s not their job to lift you up and let you down in running.
The final movement of your foot strike is your toes raising up, but that doesn’t mean they want to carry you , they are just pointing you in the right direction. Your knee needs to lift your foot, and it’s your big strong quads that lift your knee and it’s your wonderful stabilising hips, that keep your lower body under you and gutsy glutes that stop you from falling flat on your face when you are airborne…team effort.
So instead of lifting yourself up and down, think, falling into the next step, all of your body parts get in line and fall into the next step. The toes lead off, but the body brings up the rear, this is a much easier way to get forward quicker and with less pressure on the smaller body parts.
Once again, every 5mins or km check your lift off...are you bouncing up and down or falling forward into each step..check it and correct it!!
For Many More Tips on Running ..click on Running Tips