For most of us, running is extremely difficult. Even when you train with the awesome Couch to 5K program, it’s still quite challenging. After I run for a while, it starts to hurt and I get a little panicky on the inside. I think “Oh my gosh this hurts, oh gross, I’m sweating in places that shouldn’t sweat, geez how much longer until the next walking interval? Will I make it?” And, sooner or later my breathing gets more rapid, and starts reflecting those scared panicked feelings. Eventually, I’m almost gasping for air, which actually makes things much worse.
However, using proper running techniques will make your run so much easier. Although I wrote a whole eBook about 5K training and running with good technique, sometimes it’s just easy to slip back into your old wrong ways. I was working out with my trainer and he reminded me to focus on my technique during my “All American 5K” on Sunday. (Can you believe they serve apple pie and ice cream at the finish line?)
Dan showed me where my arms should be, how my feet should move, and how I should breathe. Instead of dragging along like a zombie (my words, not his lol), my movement should be more intentional and controlled. During my first run down the long street, he watched my current “technique” if you want to call it that. When I turned around and got back to him, my calves were on fire! I had walked a 5K the day before and my legs were still a little tired. He instructed me to do 10 body squats, immediately after the run. “Come on, I know you can go lower than that, you get a break after these” he said. While I tried to catch my breath during the break between runs, he told me that my feet should move in small circles. I thought putting more effort into my run would make me more tired, but it didn’t. I picked a steady pace and took quick steps in a circular motion instead of just plopping my feet down on the pavement. He also told me that I should keep my arms, elbows bent, closer to my body not wildly thrashing about. The goal is to use the least amount of energy.
That second run felt better, I focused on a conscious and controlled steady movement of my feet. Well, it was better until I had to do those dang gone squats again. “It burns!” I screamed as I wiped my forehead sweat with my t-shirt. “That’s because you need more oxygen flowing, we’ll work on your breathing this time.” For the 3rd run, he told me to inhale for two counts and exhale for two counts, keeping in rhythm with my feet movement. I felt like I needed to take notes. There was so much instruction. Shoulders relaxed, arms close, controlled feet, patterned breathing. When I circled back around, he asked which was harder breathing in or breathing out. I told him that breathing in was harder so he told me to breathe in for two counts and breathe out for four counts. Breathing out for four counts would create a “vacuum” that would almost force the next inhaled breath. He also reminded me to breathe from my diaphragm, making sure my stomach expanded while inhaling and then pulled in while I exhaled. Ok, I got it, shoulders relaxed, feet moving in steady circles, breathe in from my diaphragm not my chest for two counts, and breath out for four counts, arms close. I could not believe how much easier my 4th and final run down the block was when I used the proper technique. Don’t get me wrong, my calves were still flaming, but it didn’t feel as much like cruel and unusual torture, just torture LOL. So, the next time you run, try to focus on improving your technique. What techniques do you use to improve your run?