There are good runs, and there bad runs. What makes one better than the next? Running is both physical and mental – if you can learn to blend the two to work together, you'll have a good run every time.
Relax your arms, hands and face. Clenching your fists, squinting your eyes and pulling your shoulders up to your ears are all signs of stress and all require extra energy. You might need to shake your arms out or let them drag like Gumby for a few paces. Hands and fingers should be relaxed enough to hold a chip between the thumb and pointer finger without breaking it. Several studies have shown that frowning or “furrowing” your brows is connected to negative emotions, like anxiety. Be more mindful of your forehead as well as upper lip and eyes. In fact, make sure you’re wearing proper sun protection for the eyes and face. Click here for to learn how you can calm yourself down with mind over body techniques.
Lengthen your stride downhill, shorten it uphill. As a natural reaction, many runners tend to shorten their stride on the way down. You feel like you’re falling forward, so you want to make more frequent connections to the ground to stabilize your momentum. But this takes more energy and slows you down. Instead, lean slightly backward, open up your stride and land on the balls of your feet with your knees bent. If you’re charging uphill, use shorter steps and power up your arms. Bending forward won’t get you where you’re going any faster, so stay tall (you can lean slightly). Either way you’re going, always look ahead instead of up or down. (via Kinetic Revolution)
Breathe deeper. You might be familiar with the proper inhale-exhale practice of “in through your nose, out through your mouth.” As you run, the demand for oxygen increases and you are more likely to lose control of your breathing rhythm. One of the most common rhythms successful runners use is a 2-2 count: inhale for two seconds, exhale for two seconds. Avoid counting the breath by steps. Some runners do better with a 3-2 or a 2-3; regardless, take your time with it. Another trick to try is exhaling through the mouth with the lips pursed, making a “phhh” noise for a more forceful breath. (via Competitor)
>> Read more: Have You Heard of the 4-7-8 Breathing Trick?
Shift your posture. From head to toe, your posture needs to be spot on.
- Head: The head is still, no bobbing or sinking back into the neck.
- Upper body: Shoulders are dropped away from the head, arms bent, hands relaxed. The torso should always square up with the destination, never twisting from side to side.
- Legs: Knees are forward-pointing as well as the feet. Be aware of the feet turning outward uphill. When your feet hit the ground, they should be directly underneath your body to avoid building up strain.
- Back: The hips stay tucked underneath the torso. If your pelvis sticks out behind you, there will be pressure in your lower back and less use of your abs.
Staying relaxed throughout your body will keep oxygen going to the right places, increasing overall performance. Click here for seven ways you can improve your running speed.
>> Read more: Exercises Every Runner Should Rock