5 weeks? If you have been at this for 5 weeks you deserve some serious praise! After 5 weeks you should also be starting to consider yourself a runner, no matter what your pace or distance covered. You have shown serious commitment and understand what it takes to accomplish a long-term goal. Keep chipping away. For those of you who may have started late or perhaps have just joined our mission, welcome! It’s never too late to start … or to start over!
Ok, we are consistent and we are putting in the miles … but are we doing it right?
Running is not a complex sport. From childhood we have taken flight on our feet in a natural way. Form, often ignored but something to think about. Yes, you can change your form. Natural form is a myth. Some quirks you may have are ways your body deals with asymmetric differences. They may be necessary, but good form can be learned. Most people I coach need only some tweaking of their current form to become faster and more efficient. There are some common areas we can look at and you can try on your next run.
1. Shorten your stride length. Many people over stride, especially men. Over striding causes more impact, contributes to overprontation and other motion that can cause injury and use more energy. A great place to play with stride length is on a treadmill but you can also do it on the road. Count your arm swing for one minute, just one arm. Try to get this number over 80, even 90 if you can. I hate counting things, only do this once every month or so to remind you to work on shortening your stride. It may seem like you are shuffling but consider this, when you cut your stride length in half, you cut the impact in half and also the motion of your joints. If you wear the heels of your shoes down quickly, this means you are slamming them into the ground. Not only is this impact to the body but also it breaks your forward motion. Cut that stride down!
2. Arm carry. Your forearm and hand should be about nipple high on your chest. Try carrying your arms down unusually low and notice that your pace drops. It is better to carry your arm too high than too low. It actually takes less energy to carry your arms higher. Don't ask me why. Your arm swing should be straightforward and back with your hands never crossing the centerline of your chest. Your legs follow your arm movement. Try running with your arms swinging back and forth across your chest. Notice that your legs cross over behind you. You might even start to kick yourself. It is what we used to call, running like a girl, back in grade school. (Thank goodness we don't use lame macho expressions like that anymore because in running, being a girl is certainly not a disadvantage!) I’m digging a hole here …
3. Hill Running. Lean into the hill slightly and shorten your stride. Mentally think about pulling yourself up by a rope, this will give you the proper arm carry. Your hands will come to the centerline of your chest. Remember to run over the top, or through the hill. People have a tendency to slow up as the crest a hill. All my life I’ve been pulling that rope to get up hills … it works!
4. Posture. Run with a straight spine and forward lean. To keep your spine straight, lock your pelvis forward, to do this think about putting your naval to your spine. You will use your lower abdominal to do this. Your forward lean is your accelerator. Lean more, run faster. Your foot strike should be just behind your center of gravity. I often see runners that look like they are leaning back while trying to go forward. Use the wicked gravity to your advantage! Fall forward!
Now that you are a flowing work of art, get out there and show off to the world. A good place to debut will be at a 5 or 10K race!