I was warming up on the track the other day; doing a few striders before I started. The young man I am mentoring/coaching immediately came over to me to join in. His reason was that I looked so smooth that he thought he needed to join me to get some tips.
It is very gratifying that a youngster thinks an old chap like me is running well, but that aside, the other day I was reading an article by Latif Thomas about improving sprinters which ties in directly to this.
One of his five best tips for the year was about co-ordination and running style.
It still applies even if you are a jogger or fun runner. Improvements in your technique will make you run more efficiently and so run faster and make you less susceptible to injury.
I was a track runner specializing in 400m in the early part of my career and my thinking is still influenced by this. I was brought up on half a dozen striders at the end of my warm up to get me ready for the main event; training or competing, usually being watched and commented on by someone. I do not see this happening very often nowadays where I run, yet it is an important part of coaching.
But what are you going to do about it if you are running a few miles on your own?
If you do go with someone you can ask them to offer some comments, or better still take a short video so you can see how you look. I know it seems a little terrifying, but you are immediately made aware of any awkward movements you make and so you can correct them.
The other thing to do is to be self aware.
Examine how you are running while you are running by systematically directing your attention to all of the different parts of your body and how they are moving while you run.
You will have to leave your Walkman behind for this!
While you are resting you can also close your eyes and imagine yourself running fast and smoothly. Remember how it feels when you are actually running, and run that way.
You will not be able to do this all of the time unless you have tremendous powers of concentration. What I do when I am on a run is spend short periods thinking about how I’m running and then let my mind wander again, then pull my thoughts back for a while. It is particularly useful when you are struggling, either because you are tired or you are running hard. It helps to get you through it.
I know it’s something else you have to worry about, but it is well worth the effort in the end