It’s that time of year again. Sun Run 2016 is just around the corner! And with that in mind, here are 5 tips to help you improve your running technique:
1. Keep Your Legs in Front of You
When running it’s important to be efficient to avoid wasting energy. A common mistake that makes people less efficient is that they run with their torso leaning too far forward and their legs almost being behind them. A lot of energy is used up when trying to bring the legs forward again from this position behind the body in time for the foot to make contact with the ground. If you’ve ever finished a run and your lower back was really sore, there is a chance you were running with your legs too far behind you. A better way to run is to keep your legs slightly in front of you. Think of having “high knees”, but please don’t take me too literally here folks. That cue is simply meant to encourage people to place a greater emphasis on getting the leg back out in front of them after each foot makes contact with the ground instead of allowing the heel to kick up behind them.
2. Keep Your Strides Short
Too many people take giant strides when running. This is in part due to a piece of technology we all wear that can have a negative impact on the way we run: the running shoe. Because of the cushioned heel on most running shoes people are able to take longer strides than they normally would if they were in bare feet. This is because when you take a long stride, the first part of the foot to hit the ground is the heel. If you tried running like that in bare feet you would experience a lot of discomfort as your exposed heel bones kept making repetitive strikes on the hard ground. But now you cover that heel in a material that absorbs impact and people can take giant leaps with each step without hurting their heels. The problem is that long strides put more strain on the muscles and other connective tissues of the pelvis and limbs. Over time this repetitive strain may lead to pain and irritation. Shorten up those strides so you’re no longer heel striking really hard and focus on making them appropriate for the length of your legs.
3. Keep Your Core Activated
Having a strong torso position is important because this is where the arms and legs generate most of their power. A rigid core that remains square while the limbs create movement is the most efficient as opposed to a soft core that bends and twists. Without going into all the details about which muscles make up the core and how each muscle moves, there are some very simple steps you can take to help you maintain proper core activation. Imagine there is a string attached to the top of your head and it’s pulling you upright as if you’re a marionette. When you do this you’ll notice your spine lengthening and your belly button pulling inward. Now take your tail bone and tuck it under ever so slightly, this will further activate your core as well as aid in the proper leg position that was talked about in point #1 above. Maintain this position while running and avoid twisting at your waist.
4. Arms and Legs Should Not Cross Over Your Body
Any movement across your body is wasted movement. Distance running is linear which pretty much means it goes in a straight line. The movement of the limbs should also be as linear as possible. With each pass of an arm or leg try your best to keep it in a straight line forward and backward. Following this pattern will also make it easier to keep your torso square. This in turn will make it easier to generate power in your strides. If you have the opportunity, try running on a treadmill that faces a mirror so you can watch your limbs as they move to ensure they are not crossing over your body. This is a great way to observe your movement in real time and make any necessary adjustments.
5. Breathe With A Rhythm
Shallow, rapid breathing will get you nowhere. That air needs to get into the deepest parts of your lungs because that’s where the transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream takes place. It’s important to get into a steady rhythm of breathing where you inhale long enough to get that air all the way in. I try to pace my breathing so I inhale for three steps…1…2…3 and exhale for three steps…1…2…3. I find this pace gives me enough oxygen and more importantly, allows me to expel that carbon dioxide that can build up in the body. If three steps is too many for you, try breathing every two steps. If you’re someone with a larger overall frame and larger lung capacity, maybe breathing every 4 steps is better. The key is to practice for yourself and find out what is comfortable for you. Are you interested in participating in the 2016 Sun Run on April 17th in downtown Vancouver? Function Health Club just so happens to have a team in this event and you’re welcome to join us! All you have to do is click this link and create an account under Function Health Club. On race day we will be meeting at our facility in Yaletown before the race to get organized and then we’ll be heading over to the starting line together. Anyone who signs up under the Function Health Club team will have their shirts and race packages picked up for them prior to race day and these will be made available at our facility the morning of the race. Don’t wait to sign up because the deadline to join our team is Mar 18!
Besides being a regular contributor to the Function Health Club blog, Jeff Doyle is also the co-owner of Function Health Club as well as a Personal Trainer, BCRPA Trainer of Fitness Leaders, Agatsu Kettlebell Instructor and Older Adult Wellness Practitioner. He also has a Bachelor of Human Kinetics. You can contact Jeff directly at firstname.lastname@example.org