Get your jogging and running technique right
Last week we started our series of articles on completing your first 5km race. Hopefully you have marked out your route(s) and have begun your training log.
Before going any further, let’s talk technique. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to jog or run. Or put more accurately, it is possible to run with more or less efficiency. That’s the key to training for a 5km, 10km or half-marathon – energy efficiency. You want to cover the distance as quickly as possible. By using an efficient technique, you will burn less energy over the distance, leaving plenty in the tank for increased speed.
So, what exactly is efficient running and how do you achieve it? Let’s start from the top down, head to toes.
Firstly, it’s important to be in as relaxed a state as possible mentally. A busy mind, filled with anxiety will send the wrong message to your muscles and translate to extra tension throughout your body. And a tense muscle burns more energy. Relaxing the mind, therefore, is a great place to start.
I use visualisation for this. Once a day, for 5-10 minutes, relax and close your eyes. When you feel relaxed, start to visualise yourself out on a training run. See and feel yourself move effortlessly as you pass known landmarks. Invoke the feeling of being light on your feet, bursting with vitality, yet running while feeling relaxed. It’s very important to ‘feel’ these sensations, rather than just mentally picturing them.
Also, when out on a training run, scan your whole body periodically. Look for signs of tension in your muscles. Take particular notice of shoulders, facial muscles, hands and abdominals. If you notice any tension, focus on relaxing those areas.
A lot of joggers/runners tense their shoulders when moving. Good arm swing includes relaxed shoulders, with elbows bent at about 90 degrees, hands loose and brushing your hips as they move back and forth. Arm swing should be generated from your relaxed shoulders. This will help open out your lungs are increase oxygen intake.
You should also try to run with a slight forward lean. This adds a little momentum to your forward stride. It can also help your foot strike, causing you to hit the ground towards the mid-sole rather than on the heel, which makes for more efficient running mechanics and leads to fewer injuries. Be careful, however, not to bend forward from the abdomen, as this will restrict your circulation and lead to less oxygenated blood getting to your legs. Instead, lean the body forward in a straight line from the hips, almost as though you are falling forward with each stride.
For the next week, add about 10 per cent extra volume to your training from the previous week. This may mean an extra session or just adding 5-10 minutes to your time for each session. If you are building up from walking to jogging, try to intersperse longer intervals of jogging into your walks.
WEEKLY TRAINING LOG
- Walk at normal pace for 5 minutes.
- Jog for 2 minutes.
- Return to walking pace for 5 minutes.
- Repeat this process for the total session, always finishing with 5 minutes of walking.
- You can also use markers along your route. For example, try to jog between lamp-posts at random intervals.
Paul O’Brien is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and a qualified life coach. He runs his own business in Westport and is the creator of Bootcamp West, an exciting and challenging exercise programme in Westport. For details of upcoming classes, visit www.bootcampwest.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 086 1674515.