A day late but here we are. I need to stop writing on the day of my post, so when the unexpected happens, I don’t have to worry about the time to write. I’m sure I will get to that–it’s not like I am a die-hard procrastinator or anything. 🙂
I was thinking about this post as I ran Wednesday. I am increasing the length of my base run and I have plenty of time to think about, well, everything. I jumped from making my “long” run 2-3 miles up to 5.5 miles. Now, most runners suggest only increasing your mileage 20% each week. So, don’t do what I did.
But it is the why I was able to do it without any real ramifications to my body that I was thinking about. And it comes back to form. By running properly, I can lessen the chances of hurting myself. So, what muscles do you need for good form? ALL of them.
Those of you who have been following me know that I added drills to my exercise routine about a month or so ago. It wasn’t just to put myself through more pain. Not a masochist! Even if it felt like I was the first couple times I ran the drills.
But I knew I was going to want to run faster and longer, and in order to do that I had to strengthen myself. Today as I hit the end of my 4th mile–and a rather large hill–my calves came to my rescue. The cakewalks and bounding drills I had been doing kicked in and I used my calves to “bound” up the hill, which gave my thighs a bit of a rest.
Anytime I feel tense or uncomfortable while running, I check my form. It is amazing how often my shoulders sneak up towards my ears.
“Keep your posture straight and erect. Your head should be up, your back straight, and shoulders level. Keep your shoulders under your ears and maintain a neutral pelvis. Make sure you’re not leaning forward or back at your waist, which some runners do as they get fatigued. Check your posture once in a while. When you’re tired at the end of your run, it’s common to slump over a little, which can lead to neck, shoulder, and lower-back pain. When you feel yourself slouching, poke your chest out.” *
To keep my form easy and loose I need a strong back and core to keep me upright so my lungs have room to expand. My shoulders and arms need to be able to swing easily without strain. And not pulled up in “chicken wings”:
“When fatigued, our arm carriage changes and our body position often resembles the wings of a chicken—pulled up and close to the body. Our shoulders rise closer to our ears, as if we are shrugging and maintaining that shrug. Like a chicken, we can’t fly very well with our arms held tightly to the sides of our bodies. The result is a shorter arm swing and, consequently, a shorter stride. By taking more strides, we use more energy to cover the race distance.”**
Because, really, who wants to look like a chicken?
When you run, think about your form frequently. What do you have to fix most often? What hurts the most?
When I was “bounding” up the hill, my legs were actually moving faster than my lungs could suck in air and provide oxygen to my muscles. I need to work on my lung capacity. My shoulder muscles over my scapulae used to hurt during the long runs. I added weight exercises to target that area and my arm swing is much more relaxed now. By working on our form, we can find the spots that need fixing and work specifically on them. And make the run so much better!