Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Fall In Love With Running---Proper Running Form

Keepin' it real with my little bro back in high school!

Falling In LOVE With Running
These are just a few thoughts of my own. I always notice that when people are trying to start running consistently, they have an extremely hard time with it for multiple reasons. Most of them being that things start to hurt...legs, lungs, side-cramps, shin-splints, etc. These are the reasons a lot of people hate running. The truth is, running is just like anything else you grow to love. I.E. your family, your children, playing the piano, painting, cooking, reading, whatever it is that you like to do.What do all of these things have in common? Time and SACRIFICE. We are always so willing to sacrifice our time for others and to help others, why do we pause when we want and need to sacrifice for ourselves? The more you push yourself, whether it is only one more block or one more mile or one more minute, the more you are giving up to gain something. You are sacrificing comfort in order to feel better about yourself mentally and physically. We need to learn to love ourselves, and when we learn to sacrifice for ourselves, having respect and love for ourselves becomes a lot easier. 

Run outside as much as you can. Running is not JUST about being healthy, losing weight, staying in shape. It is about time to yourself, which is vital in a balanced life. It is about nature. It is about noticing that there is so much outside of yourself that is breathing and thriving every single day. When you run outside, you get to be around the things that you normally never have a second thought about unless you are on a "nature hike" or "camping". Why not feel that connection to our mother earth every day?

I'm in love with running. I'm absolutely addicted to it. If you know me, you know that if I don't run for a while I'm a grumpo that you don't want to be around. This all started in middle school. Oh, running. Why do I love you so? Let me state the ways.
I love how you make my lungs burn
I love how you make sweat drip into my eyes
I love how my legs burn on the up-hills
I love that you know I can always improve
I love how I always have to pee before and RIGHT after a race
I love that you let me eat a lot of carbs
I love that you gave me 3 hairline fractures up my shin bone and countless painful runs from shinsplints.
I love how you make my arch cramp up....

Okay, so I'll stop counting the ways. The point is that I am a running addict, and that I actually don't have that good of a body for it. Yeah, I am kinda small which helps out and yeah, I am pretty good at endurance (which is something I've worked hard for over the years), but the fact of the matter is that my joints are terrible and my bones are extremely sensitive! Do you have that same problem???I find myself asking "How can I go on!?!" Has my healthy addiction somehow become unhealthy and actually damaging to my body?
Well, it could be. But, that's what this post is about. Knowing your body and how much it can take is vital to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. I consider myself "a runner"---whatever that means. Right now I am running four days out of the week and I always run a minimum of three miles. Sometimes(like during finals) I totally slack and it will be a couple of weeks before I get my runs in consistently again. There have even been times when I haven't run for months, but I am still a runner. I feel like most people think you have to do a marathon or at least a half marathon to really be considered a distance runner. Well to them I say, "You're wrong." I know my body and I know my time and my goals. Running a marathon is not one of them. It is not worth the damage that I know it would do to me. I'd rather stay with my 3-7 mile runs 3-4 times a week for my entire life then put my body through something it tells me daily that it would have major problems doing and then be told I'd be better off biking or swimming. Don't get me wrong, I like all physical activity and working out in many different ways, but running is my buddy, my life-long friend, my get the picture. Since I have this addiction, I have discovered I need to make it healthy and okay (balance in everything!). And for someone like me, form and technique means the difference between shinsplints and bone splits and pulled muscles. I went to a "Running Class" (a.k.a. Running Nerd 101) at Runners Corner in Orem, UT, and people, this is a great store! Customer service is amazing and the knowledge these people have is unbelievable. You won't be disappointed. You can go to their webpage to check out their merchandise or even check out the page that talks a little bit about what I spent a few hours learning and actually physically doing(they had us all run and recorded us so that we could see our form at a stand-still).
Proper Running Form
-Your entire body should be slightly at a slant...leaning forward a little bit if that makes sense. In practicing this for myself I've realized that this helps lengthen my stride, in turn improving my pace.
-Your shoulders should be slightly pulled back and your chest pushed forward. This does not mean to run like a duck. These are all very slight adjustments. By making sure you are not hunched through keeping your shoulders back, you are doing your lungs a big favor by letting them fill up with all of the air that they need instead of cramping their space.
-Your arms. I learned in my cross-country high school team that they should hang below a 90 degree angle as to help save energy. This is WRONG. You should keep your arms at about a 90 degree the corner of a square. I don't want you going and getting stiff arms from clenching your arms into 90 degree angles though. It is still important to relax! Your elbow should never go beyond your torso. Instead of thinking to push your arms further forward, think of pushing them backwards further---since your legs follow the cadence of your arms, it should help lengthen your stride as well.
-Your torso. When I would do long, hard runs I would purposefully slow down and twist my torso a bit when I was taking a break. I liked working out my abs like this. Don't do it. Just work out your abs when you get home. Besides, it gives you side-cramps. Keep your torso firm and still.
-Your legs and your feet. This is what everyone is talking about lately with this new barefoot running fad going on. I actually got into an argument once with a kid I worked with about this. He was trying to tell me why barefoot running is better, and me being the stubborn know-it-all that really knows nothing at all, said he was wrong. He was RIGHT. Surprise surprise. As KG Harper states it on his Proper Running Technique page, ". The upper body should carry over your foot leaving your feet to push off and extend behind your center of gravity." I think that is the best way to put it. So, your foot should be flat when hitting the ground. This is hard to know if you are doing this, but what has helped to do better at planting a flat foot is by kind of just flopping my foot forward and against the pavement. It makes it pretty loud when I run, but that is what has helped me. So no, loud running is not bad.

So, to all you runners out there, the one mile once a week runner, the marathon runner, the 3 times a week runner, to any person that feels connected to running and to nature, let's keep our bodies healthy and strong and do our best at doing what we love!