Welcome to the first of eight blogs on how to improve your running. I’m going to be sharing a series of steps you can take to move up a level in your running. This may be in your performance but it could just as easily be your enjoyment. The two often go hand in hand after all, but there’s no pressure here. These are just things to try out and some pointers to guide you.
Make your running more efficient
Running is hard and uses a lot of energy. Making some simple changes to your running can mean you expend less energy and it feels easier – yes please to that! This enables you to then run for longer or to go faster.
Look at the efforts companies go to to make their cars and bikes more aerodynamic, to make phone batteries last longer and to just get the most bang for their buck. I’m not suggesting we should start shaving our heads and choosing clothes to reduce our wind resistance (although this study made interesting reading!) but why not try a few easy things to just make running less hard work?
Looking at your posture, gait and running technique is the perfect place to start. Working with a running technique specialist would be the ideal way to do this but if that’s not an option for you then try some of these steps:
- Stand up tall. When you run, lift up out of your hips. Imagine a helium ballon is tied to your head and is pulling you upwards. Running flexed or folded isn’t the ideal position for your powerful leg and core muscles to activate.
- Put your shoulders back and your head up. This will allow your lungs to fully expand, getting in as much oxygen as possible for those working muscles. It will also help to engage your core muscles which will stabilise your upper and lower body.
- Watch your arms. Don’t waste energy letting your arms drift across your body, they’ll pull you side to side instead of forwards. Keep them close to your side and swinging in a forward and back motion.
- Relax. Why waste energy clenching your hands or tensing your shoulders. You could be using that energy to run. Check in with yourself every now and then and make sure you’re relaxed.
- Lean forwards from your ankles (not your hips). This helps your momentum and your push off the ground will take you forwards rather than just up and down. That is after all the direction you want to go. Just a slight forward lean is enough.
- Land over your feet. If you take a big stride and land with your body behind your foot it not only puts a lot of strain through your knee but it acts as a brake and slows you down. Try taking shorter strides and landing with your knee, hip and upper body directly over your foot. You’ll find you land more on the centre of your foot rather than your heel and you can push off and forwards much more easily.
Go out for a run and choose one or two of these things to focus on. Don’t try to do them all at once. Setting new habits is hard, especially when you get tired, and they take practice. A bit like pelvic floor exercises, you mean well but you just forget to do them! Embed one or two into your running and then add one more.
If you want to fully revamp your running technique, then I definitely recommend working with an expert. Everyone’s body is different. You may have muscular weaknesses or imbalances that need resolving to enable you to run more efficiently. Be curious though, start noticing what you do and seeing if small changes make a difference.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, come back next week for Part 2 in the Improve Your Running Mini Series. Sign up for my newsletter below so you don’t miss it.
I learnt some of these tips through my education as a 261 Fearless Coach. While 261 is not about speed or performance, it is about helping women to enjoy running and that is so much easier if you’re running efficiently. Do have a look at 261 Fearless if you’re interested in helping women in your local community to become empowered through running.
And, if you want to learn more about running well in the meantime, then my book Run Well is ready and waiting for you everywhere you buy books.