Running is something most everyone does, though very few people have received any training on how to run properly. In fact, some people might not even realize that there is a correct and an incorrect way to run. While these incorrect running techniques may not be particularly notorious, they can wreak havoc on your body, if left unchecked.
Whether it’s your first time experimenting with the world of running, or you’re a seasoned marathon professional, there are several tips that you can utilize that will help you with your run.
Get Your Head In The Game
First, realize that your first run is not going to be a non-stop 10K race. Like anything else, you need to train and practice before you become a seasoned pro. If you throw yourself into running without exercising any restraint, you will overwork yourself and your body. Though it’s tempting to immediately train hard, it’s important not do too much too soon. Rather than immediately focusing on speed, you are better off building your endurance first. Once you have reached your endurance goals, you can begin to work on your speed. Understanding that you need time to adjust and recover will prevent you from doing unnecessary damage to your body.
Choosing The Right Path
It’s important to choose a place where your body will endure less impact. A dirt road puts exponentially less strain on your joints than asphalt or concrete. If you can, you should also choose a place where you don’t have to worry about traffic. Not worrying about cars can help you to focus on your technique.
One of the best ways to step up your running game is to prepare properly. Before every workout, drink a glass of water. It is also important to drink water during your workout, staying hydrated helps to ensure that your body is receiving enough oxygen. Begin every run with some dynamic warm ups. There is a common misconception that you should stretch before every workout, but the truth is that stretching your cold body increases your chance of injury. You can also use this time to get pumped up with some upbeat music. Research shows that music with a high tempo can help increase speed during a workout. However, research also shows that music has less of an effect the longer you have been running, so it’s sure to listen to it early on when it is the most effective.
Once you start your run, it’s important that you pay attention to maintaining proper posture and a solid stride. While running, keep your stride short, extending your leg too far can lead to injuries. Keep your head up and your torso stretched. This position allows for you to take deeper breaths. You should also make sure that your shoulders and jaw are relaxed. Avoid leaning too far one way, as it can injure your hips. Your elbows should be at 90-degree angles and your hands should be relaxed. Clenching your body while running can lead to undue stress.
Though you may not realize it, the way your foot lands when you stride plays an important role in your joint and muscle health. Since each stride while you’re running causes a tremendous amount of force, it’s important to make sure that your body is handling that force as best as possible. When you step, the middle of your foot should contact the ground first and your knee should be bent. This allows for your body to absorb the shock, rather than transfer it. If you land on your heel first, with your leg extended, each impact will send shockwaves through your ankle, knee, hips, and lower back.
Breathing: Nose Vs. Mouth
If you have ever felt like your lungs were on fire while you were running, you are not alone. While stopping to gasp for air might be the most natural response to the exertion brought on by running, there are proper breathing techniques that can allow you to run without stopping. There is a common misconception that you should inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This is simply not the case. Inhaling and exhaling through your mouth is the most effective way to get oxygen to your body. Since your oxygen levels are of utmost importance while running, this means that breathing through your mouth is the best way to ensure that you are getting an adequate amount of oxygen.
Running Without Stopping
Once you have your inhalation and exhalation down, you need to focus on how you breathe. Breathing through your chest is too shallow, as it doesn’t allow your lungs to expand fully, and will lead to over-exertion. Instead of chest breathing, you should focus on breathing through your diaphragm. With this technique, each inhalation moves your diaphragm down and contracts your chest, which expands your rib cage. This technique increases the volume in your chest cavity and allows for your lungs to expand as much as possible, thus allowing as much air as possible to enter your body. More air means more oxygen can be transferred to your muscles, which will allow you to run without stopping to catch your breath.
Now that you know to breathe through your diaphragm, the next step is to practice rhythmic breathing. While running, your feet endure a force of two to three times your body weight with every impact. At the same time, you lose stability in your core every time you exhale. Frequently, runners coincide their foot stride with their exhalations, which creates a situation where the greatest impact happens when their core is the most unstable. This creates a perfect recipe for injuries and cramps.
The solution to this problem is to implement rhythmic breathing. Rhythmic breathing creates an odd/even pattern between your foot strike and your inhalation and exhalation. This means that you will alternate between your right and left the foot on each exhalation, which will spread the force of impact equally, and lessen the stress. Rhythmic breathing through your diaphragm will also help to strengthen your centeredness while running. More oxygen, less stress, and a centered core will all help to keep painful side cramps at bay.
Properly cooling down helps to lessen fatigue after a workout. You can do this by taking 10-15 minutes to bring your heart rate down. After you have cooled down, you can then stretch. You should stretch the muscles that feel tight as this good help to lessen any post-workout soreness.
Implementing these various techniques will help you to run faster and longer, without feeling the need to stop. Remember, running takes practice, so take your time learning how to master this exercise.
Name: Amber Irwin
Short Bio: I’m Amber a running and sports writer. I love to share my passion with fellow outdoor lovers and hope to establish a community here. I believe running is an amazing sport for everyone and hope to inspire others with my words.