Are you a seasoned runner (or fairly green)? With spring coming, it’s a perfect time for all runners to review their training style. Running may seem like the most natural of sports, but a few helpful hints keep you safe and injury-free. So whether you run on trails, tracks or treadmills, check your technique and get a few tips about becoming a better runner.
1. Use proper form: Make sure you have the right form while you are running, or you could be prone to injury and tire too quickly.
- Head: Balance your head over your spine in a straight, upright stance.
- Shoulders: Relax them. Hunching forward puts pressure on your lower back.
- Arms: Sway your arms, and keep elbows at 90-degree angles.
- Hands: Run with a slightly open fist. (If it helps, pretend you’re holding an egg).
- Belly: Draw your navel in toward your spine for stability.
- Feet: Experts generally agree that a midfoot strike is preferable to a heel strike, since doing so helps you land with the least amount of shock to your ankles and knees, and gives you the ability to push off the ground forcefully.
2. Select shoes carefully: Consider your stride’s natural degree of pronation. When your foot impacts the ground, the arch elongates and flattens, allowing the foot to roll inward (pronates). The degree to which the arch flattens is often associated with the degree the foot pronates—normal pronation is about 15%. If your foot pronates too much (over-pronates) or too little (supinates) you could be at risk for repetitive stress injuries. Click here to measure your pronation and consult this ACSM link. Always seek a professional’s advice to get a proper fit.
3. Eat right and drink enough water! Before a run, have a small snack containing carbs and protein to help sustain your energy level. If you run first thing in the morning, try to eat at least 15 grams of carbs for your breakfast. Make sure you drink an ounce of water for every 10 pounds of body weight about an hour or two before your workout, and watch for these signs of dehydration during your run.
4. Commit to a race. Having a goal is a great way to stay motivated. Find a race in your area and register as soon as you can. If you’ve already paid for it and set the date, you’ll be much more likely to follow though. And many races have training program groups available for you to join—a great way to start your running career, and meet some like-minded friends.
5. Have a plan and write it down. Keep a running journal and record the details of your runs. Do you enjoy short fast runs or long slow runs? What distances do you prefer? Are you plateauing at a certain distance? Then, celebrate milestones along the way. Whether you beat a ‘personal best’ time, or run farther than you ever have before, congratulate yourself for that achievement!
6. Get Support. Running can be as demanding mentally as it is physically, and it’s tough to go through this alone—especially if you’re just starting out. Reach out to family and friends as you train. If you’ve committed to a race, invite your running friends to sign up also, and invite your non-running friends to come watch (maybe you’ll inspire them to join you next year).