Spring is here and with that comes beautiful warm weather and for some, the desire to start running! Or perhaps maybe you need to do it as part of your favorite gyms daily CrossFit wod … 🙂
Either way, running is a fantastic addition to any functional fitness program routine. It promotes immense cardiovascular gains, gets you outside for some fresh air and sunshine which can reduce stress, and can even help develop personal characteristics such as discipline, fortitude, and confidence.
While running is a natural human ability, it is inherently natural for toddlers. After that, we see a continued declined in the “natural” ability as we grow older. This stems mostly from the fact that as a culture, we sit often, which tightens our hips and makes natural running form more challenging to obtain. But we can’t let that stop us from hitting the road or the trails! With that, here are 3 simple tips to make running easier and more efficient to get back to that natural toddler form!
First, “run tall”.
If you are 5’5″, when you run, you should be 5’5″ tall. Meaning, there is no slouching or bending over. When you think about running tall, it gets us to keep our hips forward and chest up. This enables efficient running form!
Second, “fast feet”.
If you’ve ever seen a toddler run, they take a million steps. In the running world, this is know as cadence – how many times your feet hit the ground in a minute. New runners tend to have a cadence around 150/160 steps per minute. Experienced runners tend to have a cadence around 180 steps per minute. That increase in cadence is really an increase in efficiency, as with a lower cadence, people take bigger steps, which leads to heel striking, which acts as a speed bump, it slows us down! Small steps and a high cadence result in a smooth and efficient running pattern – and less injuries!
Third, “deep breath”.
This one can be a little tricky. Running is a workout. Hard work necessitates proper breathing to make the cardiovascular system exchange used air for fresh air. What tends to happen with beginner runners is they run too fast for their cardiovascular capabilities, so their heart rate shoots up and breathing becomes fast and erratic. This is ok if you are doing short sprints, but if the goal is to run a few miles, slow your pace down so that you can take big deep breaths the entire time. I like to tell myself “breathe in for 2 seconds, breathe out for 2 seconds”. When you learn to control your breathing, you can relax more, and relaxed running is much more efficient! Another way to look at it, you should be able to have a conversation when starting a running routine. Once you can run a few miles without stopping, then think about speeding up and changing your breathing pattern.
Remember those tight hips that are partially responsible for throwing off our natural running form? Here are two great stretches you can do to help loosen up!