Newbies and long time runners alike can usually benefit from working on their running form. Maybe not a drastic overhaul, but just paying attention to little things can help improve race times, reduce overall fatigue and hopefully prevent injuries.
There are tons of fantastic books out there with loads of ways to work on your form. But if you are like me once you start running there is only so much you can focus on…left, right, don’t trip, left, right, car. In the spirit of K.I.S.S. here are some of the basics that you can use to check yourself during a run.
For most people one of the first places to noticeably feel tension is the shoulders. Check in with yourself during the run to see if your shoulders have drawn up and are beginning to look like earrings. Focus on letting them go and it will open up your chest for better breathing.
As we begin to fatigue our natural inclination is to slouch thinking that we are letting our body relax, but it actually makes running harder and slows you down prolonging the effort. When you start to get tired take a moment to feel yourself pulling up from the top of your head. Once you are standing taller your energy often increases to help you finish out the run.
Our arms naturally swing as we move..unless you are one of the interesting few who really love to hold them straight down at your side…but their natural movement could be disrupting your form. Your arms should move in a straight forward to back motion. However many new runners often swing their arms side to side in front of them, which creates an unnatural twist in your body eventually resulting in hip, IT band, lower back and other issues.
Once in a while during the run, simply check to make sure your arms are not crossing in front of you. The straight forward and back motion will also help you to run faster and use less energy.
Your grimacing face cannot run the miles for you and your clenched fist will not help your legs muscle up that last hill. If you can simply say to yourself “relax, let go” a few times during a hard effort you will find that muscles you didn’t realize you were tensing let go and the effort becomes much easier. Your relaxed muscles will respond with an easier turn over, better stride and again less energy is required allowing you to go longer or faster.
While listening to music or a podcast is a fantastic way to unwind and zone out during a run, every once in a while take a moment in the silence to check in with yourself. I’ve been amazed in the last few races to see how just these few simple tips have helped me to hit PR’s or just enjoy a race with much less effort.
How often do you check your form?
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