Running in the moment and focusing exclusively on your running form will serve you well. This is easier said than done as we tend to focus more on how many miles are remaining in our run and what we have planned for the balance of the day. It’s so easy to allow our mind to wander as a mild form of escapism from the rigors of running.
Focusing on your form and allowing your mind to wander aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. You simply have to check in with your body periodically to ensure it hasn’t strayed too far off course. Much like a pilot of your own body, you have a pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight checklist that will guide you through a successful run.
Before each run you need to be rested, well hydrated and properly fueled. As you begin your run you should focus on starting slowly (i.e., your first two miles should be run at a pace that’s two minutes per mile slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles…it will seem rather pedestrian) and easing into a rhythm.
During your run it’s imperative to monitor your breathing and arm carriage. So many runners waste energy by swinging their arms needlessly. Your feet should be landing directly beneath you and at a stride rate of 180 steps per minute. If your feet are slapping the road or your making a lot of noise you are undoubtedly running very inefficiently. Run tall and keep your shoulders back. Your hands should be relaxed as though you’re carrying a butterfly in each one. Maintaining your form throughout your run will allow you to expend less energy and avoid injury. Runners tend to lose their form as their run progresses which causes them to go through a greater range of motion and placing additional stress on their lower extremities…increasing the likelihood of an injury.
As each run concludes it’s important to allow your heart rate to gradually return to normal levels by walking for 4-5 minutes afterwards. Using the stick, foam roller and stretching are investments that pay significant long-term benefits. Eating and rehydrating within the first 30 minutes of concluding a run will help with the recovery process and prepare your body for the next workout.
Pat close attention to all the small details of every aspect of your runs and you’ll get into better shape with less effort. You will also enhance your enjoyment of running considerably!