Bay View Boot Camp’s Guide to Running

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The weather is starting to cool off in St. Pete and the 5k races are getting close on the calendar.  If you have your sights set on a long distance endurance race, your first 5k, or even a light jog around your neighborhood, these tips can help you get there with less pain, increased endurance, and the motivation to keep going.

Running doesn’t have to be a chore, but it can definitely feel like one if you are using too much energy with improper running form. Use this list to get your body in perfect position from head to toe!

This is a photo taken from boot camp :)

Your head acts like a guide for the alignment and posture for the rest of your body. Allow your eyes to look ahead towards the horizon. As you get tired, you may be tempted to look at your feet and the ground, which can cause neck strain. By keep those eyes up so you will avoid neck strain.

Keep your shoulders relaxed, low and loose. As you run, make it a point to pull your shoulders down and away from your ears. If you notice your shoulders and neck getting tight, shake your arms out to release tension. No hunching over because this will put extra pressure on your back.

Arms and Hands:
Your arms and hands play a bigger role in running than you think. When you run, bend elbows at a 90 degree angle and swing them forward and back, not across your body. Swinging across your body uses up energy, tires your muscles, and actually slows you down.

Your hands control the tension in your arms and upper body, so keep them relaxed. *Tip* Imagine carrying an egg in each hand to avoid clenching your hands.

The ideal torso position is often described as “running tall.”  Do this by stretching yourself up to your full height with your back comfortably straight. If you do yoga, think mountain pose.

Do you experience lower back pain when running?  Alleviate this by engaging your abs while running.

Legs and Stride:
While ‘high knees’ are sometimes part of a bootcamp workout, they are not a part of distance running. :)  “Efficient endurance running requires just a slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover and a short stride” (Runner’s World). Your feet should land directly under your body. If your lower leg extends out in front of your body as it makes contact with the ground, your stride is too long.

Ankles and Feet:
Foot strike is a pretty controversial topic in endurance running (running heel to toe or landing mid-foot).  Safe bet: keep your footfalls as quiet as possible.

Motivation Tips:
1. Read running blogs so you can learn race strategies and stay motivated by others success stories.  The more tricks you can add to your own personal toolbox, the more successful and prepared you will be.

2. It is always great to have one (or more!) mantras to say to yourself to keep from turning around and going home. A great one is “Run your own race.” This should remind you to stick to your training, to focus on your body and your breath, and to only worry about where you are in the race, not everyone else.

3. When running a long race, dedicate one mile to a special person in your life. As you pass that mile marker, think about that person and the reasons they are in your life. This will oftentimes make you smile and forget about the ache in your calves, at least for a few minutes.

4. There are running programs on the internet to help you, especially if you are a beginner.  Try the app “Couch to 5k” on your smart phone.  You can also create your own running calendar and post it to keep you on track.

5. Proper running shoes are the most essential piece of equipment a runner should own. Head to your local running store and get fitted properly. The salespeople in these stores are experts in running, feet, shoe styles and biomechanics. You will be able to “test run” shoes in store. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions or mention previous injuries. They want you to love running, not just your shoes!

The more you run, the more you will learn the things that work best for you and your body. Find what gets you motivated and do those things consistently. For some, that means running with a group or their favorite four-legged friend. For others, running without tunes is torture. Whatever your preference, get out there and go for a run! :)