4 Essential Elements
- Improve and focus on your running form
Fixing your running form according to your body will allow you to stay injury-free, run healthy, even run faster with an easier sense.
Head Tilt- How you hold your head is key to overall posture, which determines how efficiently you run. Let your gaze guide you. Look ahead naturally, not down at your feet, and scan the horizon.
Shoulders- Shoulders play an important role in keeping your upper body relaxed while you run, which is critical to maintaining efficient running posture. For optimum performance, your shoulders should be low and loose, not high and tight. As you tire on a run, don’t let them creep up toward your ears, make sure you loosen them.
Arms- Your hands control the tension in your upper body, while your arm swing works in conjunction with your leg stride to drive you forward. Keep your hands in an unclenched fist, with your fingers lightly touching your palms. Your arms should swing mostly forward and back, not across your body, between waist and lower-chest level. Your elbows should be bent at about a 90-degree angle.
Torso- The position of your torso while running is affected by the position of your head and shoulders. With your head up and looking ahead and your shoulders low and loose, your torso and back naturally straighten to allow you to run in an efficient, upright position that promotes optimal lung capacity and stride length. Running tall with a natural forward lean is ideal, when you get tired and crunch over, open the chest and take a deep breath to loosen the torso.
Hips- Your hips are your center of gravity, so they’re key to good running posture. The proper position of your torso while running helps to ensure your hips will also be in the ideal position. With your torso and back comfortably upright and straight, your hips naturally fall into proper alignment, pointing you straight ahead. If you allow your torso to hunch over or lean too far forward during a run, your pelvis will tilt forward as well, which can put pressure on your lower back and throw the rest of your lower body out of alignment.
Legs/Stride- While sprinters need to lift their knees high to achieve maximum leg power, distance runners don’t need such a high knee lift, it’s simply too hard to sustain for any length of time. Instead, efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover, and a short stride. Together, these will facilitate fluid forward movement instead of diverting (and wasting) energy. When running with the proper stride length, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If your lower leg (below the knee) extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long.
Ankles/Feet- To run well, you need to push off the ground with maximum force. With each step, your foot should hit the ground lightly, landing between your heel and midfoot, then quickly roll forward. Keep your ankle flexed as your foot rolls forward to create more force for push-off. As you roll onto your toes, try to spring off the ground. You should feel your calf muscles propelling you forward on each step.
- Improve your mobility
To strengthen and balance your body, mobility exercises are very important. Include some strength, core and mobility exercises in your weekly schedule. Work on core, planks, lunges, squats, bridge, single-leg exercises. Weight training is very beneficial, stronger muscles will help balance the running form and give you more power. Including regular stretching sessions will loosen the joints, muscles and increase the mobility.
- Balanced training and lifestyle
Focus on a balanced and sustainable training schedule. Over-training will only have negative effects. A healthy lifestyle will help with the lifetime running.
- Follow a healthy, mindful, balanced diet, no extreme diet. Eat healthy proteins and fat, healthy grains and carbohydrates, lots of vegetables especially green, healthy fruits are a great source of carbs for runners. Avoid processed sugars and processed foods.
- Get enough sleep. Sleeping 7-8 hours/night not only helps with energy, but also with healthy weight maintenance, overall health and disease prevention, and also recovery from running and training.
- Include some cross-training
Once a week, to include some cross-training exercises such as cycling, swimming, yoga, elliptical trainer, and foam rolling sessions, will help to balance the muscles and help with running recovery. We also need to look after our tendons and fascia, as we get older they grow stiffer and less pliable, which can cause injuries. Foam rolling and stretching sessions will look after those tissues.