People who are not used to running sometimes put themselves off by succumbing to a few small mistakes. They end up hating the run, hurt themselves and never want to do it again. Don’t let this be you! You can train yourself to be a great runner, and really enjoy it, just by focusing on a few things:
So may people lead a majority sedentary lifestyle, stuck behind a desk all day and sat on the sofa all night. This has led to a higher incidence of kyphosis; the rounding of the spine and internal rotation of the shoulders into a hunch. When running like this it can make your run incredibly comfortable, and may leave you with major back ache. To overcome this you need to strengthen your core, and stretch out your chest. And be mindful of your back when you’re running. If you feel like you are hunching, or leaning a little too far forward, stand up straighter, engage your core, and carry on.
Very often I see runners thinking they need to be bounding from one leg to the next in order to run at an acceptable pace, but this is just not the case. Over extending the leg when running can lead to a pronounced heel strike, knee injuries and hips out of place! If you want to go faster, try increasing your leg pace. That is, don’t make your strides longer, but make your legs work faster. I promise you it works!
There has been lots of debate over the years whether you should strike the floor on your toes, mid-sole or heel, and it’s come up as mainly inconclusive. That said, I wouldn’t recommend striking with your heel, for the same reasons as mentioned above. Aiming for the middle of your foot to strike the floor first will minimize impact and allow a strong push off. If you are a natural toe runner then good for you, as they are often said to be the fastest runners. If you’re not, and you want to be, you can invest in a good pair of barefoot running shoes that will force you to run on your toes due to the lack of cushioning. Just be aware that you will have serious calf ache if you’ve never done it before, so be sure to wear them in gently and stick with short runs initially!
Your running is going to be a lot harder if your expending energy with your arms swinging violently beside you, or across your body. When you run you are trying to aim for energy efficiency, so you want as little rotation and lateral movements as possible. Keep your core tight, shoulders relaxed, palms in an unclenched fist, and allow your arms to swing naturally and gently by your side, in a forward and back motion.
Sometimes I get back off a run with a headache and an aching jaw. This shows me I’ve been frowning a lot, and have been running with a clenched jaw. Always try and be mindful of how your body is feeling, and remember to be relaxed, enjoy the scenery, and enjoy the fact that you are out making your body stronger, fitter and more robust by the actions you are taking.
Try these tips on your next run and see if it feels any better. The more you run, the more comfortable your form becomes. So put your trainers on, go out there and get running!