Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Form, form form

 Flickr image from katclay's photostream

I was prepared for the tight calves, the blisters, the familiar burning feeling in my lungs as I dragged myself round the parks and streets of South London. One thing I hadn't prepared for was my complete loss of form.

I could feel my feet flip-flopping around in my trainers as they hit the ground, they felt heavy, I didn't know how to carry them correctly. My back was aching, I couldn't regulate my breathing. It was as if everything I'd ever known about running had been knocked out of my head at some point in the last three months, it's place taken by the perfect pulled pork recipe, no doubt.

I need to do something about my running form sharpish because I can't keep running like a baby elephant. Here's some of the stuff I've pulled out of the depths of my memory:

Head up: I must not stare at my feet. I don't know why, but I've developed a fear of falling over, which has lead to me constantly scanning the ground for obstacles when running. It's also put me off high heels too, which is a disaster as I'm about as tall as Papa Smurf without assistance. Looking straight ahead will improve my posture and will hopefully mean the end of that back pain.

Shoulders down: I remember when I first started running, I had a problem with my shoulders slowly creeping up towards my neck during the run. So now I'm constantly reminding myself to keep my shoulders back and down. 

Arms: It took me a while, but I think I may have mastered the arms. Someone once told me to draw a line down the centre of my body and to never let my arms cross that line during a run. But maybe you can help me with this - is it true that your arms can't move faster than your legs when you're running? E.g. Speed your arms up and your legs will speed up too?

Feet: I'm still trying to work out how to properly land my feet, but I know they should be landing quietly, and I shouldn't be coming back with blisters - it's sandal season damn it. Runner's World says 'Good running is springy and quiet'. Yes, let's try that. 

Hills: Another wise person/publication once told me (if I could remember who, I'd credit them) that the secret to powering up hills is to lean forward slightly, flick your feet up at the ankles and really use your arms to drive yourself up. I prefer to keep my eyes on the ground about 3 feet in front of me too (head up though), rather than at the summit of the hill. Less chance of freaking out and giving up that way.

And that's where my limited form knowledge ends. Am I missing anything? Can anyone shed any light on how I should be positioning my feet? And are there any secrets to making that first 4 miles of a run feel less like hard work?

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