While running is an amazing way to stay fit and is a part of many workouts during the warmer months at ResoluteFIT, it is also an activity which can unfortunately come with injuries. These injuries are typically a result of one of two things: overtraining or poor technique.
A simple rule to help prevent you from overtraining is to not increase your run volume (time or distance) by more than 10% each week. So if you did not run much at all last year and a workout has a decent amount of running it in next week, same as any other movement in a workout, we recommend you modify to you. This may mean doing 25% of the running, and 75% on a rower or bike. The cardio benefit is the same, but doing 75% on a machine will help reduce the run injury risk. Talk with your coach in class about what is best for you. Remember, do not do too much run volume too soon in the season!
When it comes to run technique, there is evidence that suggests runners who “run quietly” get injured the least. How can you make your running steps quieter? It takes the whole body. Try this thought process while running:
Head: Keep that head up! Often, we look down when we are tired. Keeping your gaze straight ahead dictates what the rest of the body should do – go forward!
Shoulders: Keep them relaxed! Often, we hold stress in our shoulders and upper traps, hiking them up to our ears subconsciously. This robs us of efficiency and creates increased tension in our body which does not help with quiet running steps.
Hands: Also relaxed! Same as shoulders. Keep your hands nice and loose. Your swing should be minimal, with a slight forward and back motion.
Hips: Forward! Put another way, keep your butt tucked under your shoulders, don’t let it slide back or stick out as you get tired. Think about trying to “run tall”. If you are as tall as possible, your hips will be forward. A good hip position will set your legs up for a successful running stride.
Legs: Pull! Running should be executed by pulling with your hamstrings, bringing your ankle close to your butt. Avoid shuffling forward with your feet coming only inches off of the ground. By beginning the running step with a “pull”, you are setting your foot up to land quietly and lightly underneath you.
Feet: Fast feet! Efficient running form has a high cadence. Typically 170-180 steps per minute! In order to accomplish this, think about having as little contact time with the ground as possible. As soon as the foot touches the ground, pull it right back up using the hamstring. The quick contact time with the ground will make for a quieter step.
Try going through this checklist when you first start out on your run, when you are finishing up your run, and perhaps several times during your run depending on how long your run is. Start at your head and go down to the shoulders, hands, hips, legs, and feet. If the goal is good running form, it helps to stay mentally present and engaged when running. It’s so easy for poor technique to creep in, especially if you are a newer runner!
With the growing body of research showing that exercise, specifically exercise being done outside in nature, can improve mood, energy levels, and all sorts of health metrics, running really is a great choice for exercise. Try using these strategies to get started with your running journey or to improve your current trajectory, and if you are having trouble sticking to a plan or progressing toward your goals, remember there are lots of resources out there to help you. Feel free to reach out to either of us for help, and most of all, don’t give up! Success in running is measured in months and years, not days or weeks!
Rob Olson, owner/CEO of ResoluteFIT and Rob’s Runners (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Katie Lauder Piccirillo, DPT, RF Member, and Granby Road Race committee member