Let me start by saying that running isn’t for everyone. You either love it the first time, or you hate it every time you go out on a run. Running appeals to a very specific group of people and its community grows year by year.
Running is the ultimate social workout. You get to enjoy the sights and people you meet on a run. You get to participate in events specifically set up for runners. If you want a cause to support, just wait a while and a fun run will be set up to get all like-minded runners together.
Despite appealing to only a select group of people, the draw of running isn’t the physical benefits of it, but the sense of accomplishment and community that comes with the territory. It shouldn’t surprise you that millions choose running as their workout, and it’s also the reason why people jump into running without learning the most basic things they need to know about running.
Do you know how to run?
Of course, you do, but have you adjusted how you run to do a meaningful workout? There’s a reason why running has so many analytics. Even buying shoes could take an entire day for someone who really wants the best fit, not just for their feet, but for how they run.
What we’re getting at is your running form. If you’ve ever been injured while you were running, then you might have to tweak a thing or two about how you run. It’s more about unlearning what you’ve been practicing for years and learning a safer, more efficient way to run. Changing the way you run, regardless if you’re an intermediate or an expert runner, will greatly diminish your efficiency at first, but like everything, continuous practice turns it into a habit.
If you’re not having any issues with your running – you don’t get injured, and it doesn’t become uncomfortable in the long run, then it would be best to stick with what works for you.
Your form adjusts as you go. As you build your experience and your capacity to run, how you run also changes with you, but the fundamentals should always stick with you as you go. Mind your posture when you run. Maintain your cadence, and manage your stride. These are things that are innate to you by now, but as you continue to run, you’ll be less mindful about your form.
Your cadence is perhaps the most important part of your progress. As you run more, you increase your cadence or the number of steps you take per minute. Most intermediate runners keep a steady 140-160 cadence, but you should be aiming for at least 170, and even 180 if you feel like it. Keep in mind that increasing your cadence will also wear you out, and just like how you manage fuel economy in a car, it’s best to go for the sweet spot that will get you running for longer.
As for increasing your cadence, do what you feel is natural. Don’t push yourself beyond what your body wants to do. Keep in mind that lower cadence will impact your legs and joints more. Faster cadence spreads out the strain between strides, which also reduces your risk of injury.
Running for newbies
If you’re not sure how you should run, then I suggest that you focus on your strides instead of your cadence first. Be more familiar with how your foot strikes the ground when you run. New runners tend to overreach their strides, which happens when the heel or foot makes contact with the ground, while their entire body is behind them.
When your foot touches the ground, your body should be lined up vertically. It doesn’t matter if your forefoot, midfoot, or heel touches the ground first. Everyone runs differently. All work well for everyone, as long as your foot is lined up vertically with your body when it hits the ground.
Your posture is how your body is positioned when you run. Some runners prefer a slight forward lean when running, as this helps with using their momentum. Leaning forward should be done without slouching at the shoulders. At the very least, your back should not be curved, but straight, to avoid strains on your back. Minding your posture helps to work your upper body muscles when you run, and it helps you maintain a good posture even when you’re not running.
Running coaches call the posture “running tall”. It’s more about how you picture yourself when you’re running – as if you’re a tall person. Keep your chin up, don’t arch your body. If you prefer to lean forward when you run, make sure that you’re keeping your angles straight.
How to Keep the Fire Burning
Perhaps one of the things you’ll encounter as a runner is boredom – and it’s all too common. You run the same routes, at the same time every day. When running becomes a routine, you take the fun out of it. It’s a chore, not an exercise, and that’s not a healthy way to keep yourself going.
Too much of the same thing is also bad for running. In fact, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is one of the most common injuries in running. Basically, you just wear certain muscles, tendons, and nerves that are overused, because you do the same thing over and over again.
With this in mind, it’s much more beneficial to you, as a runner, to switch it up now and then. Change your shoes, do new routes, take new challenges to your running. It doesn’t have to be the same thing over and over again. That doesn’t just become boring, but also dangerous for your mechanics too.
Running isn’t the only thing you should focus your workouts on. Sprinting works with different muscles in your body. Hiking puts more of the workload on your neglected muscle groups. All in all, doing different workouts would keep your fire burning and would help you improve your performance in the long run.
If you run frequently, make sure to alternate your routes and workouts. Switching it every not and then would shift the workload on other muscle groups, and this would also help your overused muscles to rest and recover. If you’re used to running on roads, why not go for a hike? If you’re used to running at an incline, try going the opposite way and find a new challenge for yourself.
The terrain, your shoes, and even the direction where you’re running could all affect how you run. Put more variety into your running. Sometimes, even running with another person would change your dynamics briefly, and this could prevent RSIs altogether.