In the past year I have ran three half marathons, competed in four triathlons and participated in countless fun runs. It wasn’t until about two weeks ago when I discovered I was running the completely wrong way. After some coaching, I realized there were habits I had developed that were hurting me long term and slowing me down. There were three key habits I needed to change in order to be a fast and efficient runner (I am willing to be I am not alone on these): The first was to focus on my wrists. I often times would relax my wrist, especially near the end of a long run when muscle fatigue would set in.
My wrists would slouch and flop around as my feet connected with the ground. In the running world they call this “dinosaur-hands.” Since that habit was called to my attention, my last few runs I have focused solely on keeping my wrists locked and in the correct position with thumbs turned toward the sky. Because of my “dinosaur-hands,” I had developed another poor habit: a cross body arm swing. Although it was minimal, with my arms crossing across my body — rather than up and down in a straight and forward plane, it caused me to use energy that could have been conserved and was limiting my efficiency.
I have been working on correcting this by squaring my shoulders and ensuring that my elbows, wrists and shoulders work simultaneously to stay in a straight-forward motion. Last, and some may argue the worst, was my posture. I ran with a slight hunch in my shoulders, in an attempt to lean forward. But instead of leaning from my ankles, I was leaning from my hips, which caused my shoulders to fall forward. This caused a chain of different problems. After a long jog I would notice a terrible pinch in my shoulder muscle that would often tingle down through my arm. I also would feel pressure and pain in my lower back.
How do you fix this, you might ask? The key is to focus on stacking your spine. You want to be sure your skeleton is stacked on top of itself in order to effectively distribute your weight. When you lean, lean at the ankle and let gravity do the rest of the work. Over the last few weeks I have been re-learning how to run. Completely oblivious to the fact my running form was horrid, I had developed habits that are seemingly impossible to break. With hard work, intentionality, and determination I know it is possible! If you think you may have some of these bad habits know that the first step is recognizing them.
• Video-record your run: This will help you notice the flaws you wouldn’t see without watching it.
• Find a coach: Coaches can be extremely helpful and give you the best advice to correct your run or become quicker and more efficient.
• Watch YouTube Training videos: It may be hard to find a coach on a college budget but we have the unique opportunity to utilize the Internet in many aspects.
Take advantage of all of the free advice on YouTube and other sources.