Everyone can run. Or rather every able-bodied person with the use of their legs can run. It’s as simple as walking, right? All you do is move a little faster, so it can’t be that hard. Wrong!
Well that’s not an entirely wrong statement, anyone can run but not everyone can run in an economical, efficient, injury free way or at least not without some tips and guidance. I love running, it’s something I took up in adult life rather than as a child. My sister used to be part of the school cross country club but that never really interested me. I don’t know if maybe that was down to the issues I had as a child with my back and hip and the pain I would sometimes get.
I think maybe being whisked off in an ambulance after completing the 800m at school sports day probably put me off running for a while. But here I am now totally in love with it and about to share some of my tips with you for how you can run successfully and also enjoy it. I’m not going to get super technical and I’m not going to promise you that you’ll be turning out eight minute miles if you follow my tips but hopefully they will help you to feel more confident about what you are doing.
What are you legs and feet doing?
I’m not a particularly fast runner, at the peak of my running fitness I can do up to ten miles at a sustained ten-minute mile pace.
Have you thought about how your running style/technique effects your stamina and your pace? If you run and your feet stay very low to the ground, then you are likely taking pretty short strides and need to move your legs fast to gain pace. If you start to lift your feet higher and drive the knees forward (don’t over stretch) you will create more “spring” from the balls of your feet. This will propel you forward further and faster.
I went out monitored my pace and effort during my natural low footed stride and a higher footed stride.
Here’s what I found:
– low feet = relatively slow pace
– lifted feet and knees = naturally faster pace
– low feet pushing to create a faster pace = out of breath very fast and hard to sustain
– lifted feet and knees and pushing for pace = able to sustain the pace for much longer and breathing not so taxed.
Of course there are always those who will achieve the results they want no matter their style – if that’s you then know that I applaud you but I am also a little jealous of you.
What your arms do when you run also has a big impact.
Next time you’re out glance down and see what your arms do when you run. Do you have a good bend in your elbow? Ideally aim for a 75 – 90 degree bend.
Do you run with clenched fists or are your hands relatively loose? Clenched fists can be a sign that you are carrying tension up the arms and into your neck so try and relax your fingers a little.
What motion do your arms make? Are they moving backwards and forwards or are they coming across the midline of your body? If you tend to run with your arms coming across the midline of your body, then it’s likely you are also twisting your torso as you run. This will expend more energy than you need to and lead to quicker fatigue. Instead try opening your hands further away from each other and focus on a forward and backwards action that originates from the shoulder so the whole arm is in motion.
How about the shoulders, neck, and head, what part do they play when you are running?
Simple, quite a significant role! Your head is pretty heavy and it takes effort to hold it up and if you’re like me it can be far too easy to let it drop forwards and end up looking down at your feet as you run.
Yes we need to see where we are going and look for trip hazards but really you should always be looking several feet out in front of you for this and not straight down at the floor.
Looking down at your feet is going to put additional pressure through your neck and upper spine and at the same time is going to compress your windpipe and make breathing even harder which is the last thing we need. Try to look further out in front of you and just scan the floor for obstacles.
Next think about your shoulders, are they relaxed and down or shooting up by your ears? Every bit of added tension in the body is going to mean a less economical stride, energy used up more quickly and uncomfortable aches as you run – and probably afterwards too. Remember to open your hands away from each other, keep a relaxed bend in the elbows, move the arms forwards and backwards and allow your shoulders to relax down.
I hope these tips can help you to adjust your technique and run further and faster. Another key element to how you get on with your running comes down the cross training that you do. Whilst getting out and putting one foot in front of the other is important you should also think about adding strength training into your program. A great way to do this without the added hassle and cost of going to the gym is by taking up home workouts. Home workouts can be incredibly versatile, very convenient and don’t have to cost you the earth. You can get started with zero equipment and still make a positive impact on your overall health, your fitness and you running prowess.
Not sure that home workouts are for you? Why not sign up for my 5 Day Challenge where I show you just how easy it is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine from the comfort of your own home. What have you got to lose?