More than one of you have asked me for running tips since I attended the Good Form Running Clinic at Gazelle Sports. If you live in the midwest, you can find a Gazelle, if not I am sure you can find a local store in your area that does this clinic. (Good Form Running is put on by New Balance, FYI!) At the clinic each person is filmed running in shoes and running barefoot. Remarkably, in running shoes every single person runs incorrectly and once they run barefoot, everything corrects itself. That is because running incorrectly in bare feet really HURTS; it results in shin splints, IT Band, foot problems, etc. AND these injuries can all be avoided. If you just learn to run the right way. SO, what is the right way?
*these tips had me PAIN FREE, no shin splints within two weeks.
1. POSTURE: A lot of time as we get tired and further into a run we tend to creep and bend forward. DO NOT DO THIS. Keep you back straight, head up and eyes on the horizon. This keeps the rest of the body moving as it should and prevents neck and back pain. Like the above poster says, if you feel like you have slid forward take a minute and reach as far above your head as you can and then bring your arms back down= you should be re-set into the correct position.
2. FOOT PLACEMENT & CADENCE: Heel striking is a common (nearly everyone at the clinic I attending did this). Heel striking is the equivalent to taking a drumstick and pounded it on the table, essentially when you land on your heel you are shocking your bone up to your knee, like the drumstick and shaking the life out of your muscle. This is when the muscle begins to tear away from the shin, resulting in shin splints. You can also damage your knee and achilles doing this. It also slows you down significantly. Think about it--when you go to slow down you run on your heels. If you are heel striking you are slowing yourself down with each step and forcing your body to work that much harder. In order to correct this you can think of two things. ONE: brush your foot underneath you like a bull getting ready to charge. Do you feel where your foot is touching? It should be touching the ground right in the midfoot towards the tip. This is where you should aim to land. SECOND: Increase your cadence. Longer strides aren't always better. Increasing the pace or quickening your step forces you to land on the correct part of your foot, you don't have the time to extend that foot and slam down your heel.
4. LEAN: Once you are running if someone were to snap your photo, you should have a distinct lean. Why? Simple- you should be using gravity to help pull you along. Why do more work than you have to? Watch this video of Olympic runners... they have a lean and are using the force of gravity to propel them forward, reserving energy and taking performance to a whole new level.
Finally, you should watch your arm movement. Think "Nip to Hip"... your arms shouldn't cross over the center of your body (don't try and propel your body forward with your arms, it wastes energy and that is about it).... A fun fact: your legs mirror your arms, so when you are practicing moving your arms from your nipples to your hip area, your legs tend to move better as well. Your hands should be in a relaxed fist, and one trick to keep those arms from crossing over is to place your thumb on the top of the fist and point outward. It is also really important to be running in the right shoe with the right support. Find a store in your area that will watch you walk/run and fit you in the correct shoe. Check the return policy as well, a legit show store should let you bring back your shoes if they aren't working out for you! I know this is a LOT to think about while running, and you should really just begin my cycling through the list in your mind every 30 seconds or so and eventually your body will start remembering it and take over. Trust me!