Hours of drill practice isn’t the only way to improve your form. Paying attention to the three areas below will also have a beneficial effect.
How Better Posture Improves Your Run
Good posture isn’t just a matter of standing up straight. Its about being able to maintain optimal body position on the move, even when you are getting tired. This requires strength and core stability, as well as sufficient flexibility in the joints and muscles which is why I believe that working on these areas is so important for runners.
It’s even more relevant for those who spend most of ‘non-running’ time sitting down, which shortens the hip-flexors and hamstrings, lengthens (and weakens) the glutes and often leaves shoulders hunched and the head jutting forwards from the top of the spine. This not a posture we want to take into our running.
Raise Your Awareness
Knowing what constitutes good technique is a prerequisite for running well but having an awareness of what makes good technique is not the same as actually having good technique! I realized this when I started to use video feedback in my coaching, a rude awakening to my own shortcomings. While external feedback like video is useful, it’s also important to hone your ability to tune into the feedback your body is giving you. I use ‘body scanning’ to keep tabs on my posture and technique when I’m running. I might focus on something specific such as the lightness of my foot strike or I might do a mental ‘tour’ from head to toe, looking and listening for signs of tension or tightening. This gives me the opportunity to make adjustments to my technique rather than soldier on with poor form.
Want to Run Faster? Learn to Relax.
With so much to think about, the notion of relaxing while you run may sound laughable but holding unnecessary tension in the body wastes energy and accelerates fatigue. That’s why elite sprinters train themselves to stay completely relaxed even when they are running at top speed (check out those floppy jaws in slow-motion video footage).
A warm-up helps to prime your body for a run, dissipating the stress and tension of the day. Body scanning every ten or 15 minutes helps too (the most common sites for harboring tension are the jaw, the neck and shoulders and the hands). Finally, check you are breathing freely and holding your breath creates tension and anxiety. You could even try smiling!