Just like any lift in a WOD; it takes a certain amount of skill and technique to perform, and learning how to run correctly is no different. There are a few common faults that many runners have and it’s important to understand what those can be. A lot of people hate running because they say something along the lines of how much it hurts or how sore they get afterwards, but those are all things that can either be fixed or mitigated.
A good place to start is making sure you have proper running shoes. You want shoes that have plenty of cushion on the sole and have good arch support for the midsole of your foot. This will help alleviate pain in your lower joints if that is a limiting factor for you. Next we want to take a focus on your running gait, or the manner in which you run. With every stride you take you want to take note of a few things. Firstly, be conscious of how you are landing on your feet and also where you’re landing in relation to your body. You should try and strive to be striking the ground around the midsole of your foot and landing each stride with your feet positioned under your hips. Some runners tend to have a heel strike and land with their feet in front of them. This can lead to knee pain and you’ll have a much higher chance at developing repetitive stress injuries such as the dreaded shin splints.
Working our way up the body, we want to take notice of our posture while running. Some runners lean back more and others lean too far forward. Proper running form is found right in between those two; you want to have a straight back and be relatively perpendicular to the ground with your head looking straight ahead of you. One cue that coaches and individuals can think of is imagining yourself as a puppet with a string attached to your head and the puppeteer is pulling upwards so you stand up straight.
Following that, we need to focus on what our arms and shoulders are doing. In my experience of running, I’ve seen people do all sorts of things with their arms while they run all the way from not moving their arms at all to flailing their arms around as if they’re drowning. On a more serious note, more often of what I see is individuals not swinging their arms enough or their elbows are flared way too far out. Ideally, your arms should be bent at about 90 degrees with relaxed shoulders and your elbows should be close to your sides as they swing. Swinging your arms is a vital part of running. This helps with your overall energy conservation, momentum, and speed. It’s especially important as you get more and more fatigued and having that strong arm swing will help keep propelling you forward on that last stretch.
Finally, one more bit of advice I can give and is arguably one of the most important, is stretching and cooling down. If you’ve never really avidly ran in the past I’m going to tell you now… you’re going to be sore. There’s no way around it, so all you can do is take the proper steps to reduce the severity of it as much as you can. These measures are going to consist of warming up properly, cooling down, staying hydrated, and stretching. If you don’t I can promise DOMS will creep up on you and make you wish you took the extra 20 minutes to do the aforementioned procedures. As you guys know from the WODs, warming up is extremely important to get your body ready for exercise and prevents injuries from happening. What is often more overlooked; however, is cooling down and stretching while your body temperature is still elevated. Taking an extra 15 minutes to do a brisk walk/jog in addition to stretching the appropriate muscles. This will help break down and move around those metabolites you built up during your workout, and reduce the intensity of DOMS. So, whether you’re new to exercise or are a dedicated athlete and you want to start running more and the following basic program can help you reach those running goals.
Couch to 5k
About the Author: Joshua is from Grafton, North Dakota and is currently a student at NSDU majoring in Exercise Science. Josh joined the CrossFit Fargo staff back in late January as an intern to complete his undergraduate degree. Upon graduation, he aspires to become a certified strength & conditioning coach (CSCS) through the NSCA and continue to help people reach their fitness goals and inspire individuals to lead healthier lifestyles. If any readers would like to reach out and ask any questions, you can email him at: [email protected].