Practice Makes Perfect!

Posted: November 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Runners tend not to practice!  I have strongly encouraged the runners that I coach to spend at least a portion of each run practicing their form.  This investment provides a significant return in the form of injury-free running and more efficient and enjoyable running.  It is counterintuitive to think you can run faster and longer with less energy…but that’s exactly what occurs when your form is dialed in and perfected.

The ideal time to focus on form is at the beginning of each run.  The first two miles of every run should be at a pace that’s 2 minutes slower than you expect to average for the remaining miles; excluding your cool down.  It’s important to begin each run with a structure or methodology.  For instance, I begin in the same position (i.e., feet shoulder width apart, chin straight ahead, lean forward from the ankles and begin with a brisk walk which transitions smoothly into a run in a matter of 10 steps).

I then go through a mental checklist that focuses on:

1. Landing with my feet directly beneath my body

2. Landing softly on my mid-foot

3. Leaning slightly forward from my ankles

4. Maintaining a slight bend in each knee to help in shock absorption

5. Maintaining a stride rate of 180 SPM (steps per minute)

6. Keeping my hands and shoulders relaxed

7. Breathing should also be relaxed and rhythmic

This process takes time to develop so patience is a virtue.  Form typically diminishes as one becomes tired so I strongly recommend taking regular walk breaks (i.e., 1 minute of brisk walking for every 9 minutes of running).  This provides a mental and physical break as well as allows your heart to pump large volumes of blood/oxygen to your major muscles.  You will be more likely to maintain proper and efficient running form throughout your runs.

Take the time to incorporate practice into every run and you will be richly rewarded!

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