My earliest memory of running was at a jog-a-thon fundraiser for my pre-school in 1980. I remember running around the modified track that was made just for us little ones. What fun that was! Running comes naturally to me, but I know that’s not the case for everyone.
Most often people have tried a Couch-to-5K program or recently bought a treadmill but haven’t found a way to “like” running. What I’ve found to be the common reason people don’t like to run is because they haven’t learned how to run.
Yes, everyone should learn how to run!
Although I have a natural passion for running, I also had to learn how to run properly. I’ll share what I learned, and how to do it in 4 simple steps.
- Preparation. This first step can be the most time-consuming, but taking the time to prepare will ensure happiness down the road! Supportive running gear is needed if you plan to run a 5K. Visit a reputable shoe store, like Fleet Feet, where your running stride is evaluated then matched with the perfect running shoe. Expect that they will also recommend supportive shoe inserts and socks. For women, look for a supportive sports bra. Fleet Feet can also assist with bra fittings. There are several brands to try, but I recommend Moving Comfort Juno Sports Bra. It’s 100% supportive, so there’s absolutely no jiggling and it will help to keep your running form straight and ease any back tension. All other outerwear depends on the elements, whether it’s warm or chilly.
- Form. Your body should be relaxed while running. Often we are anxious at the start of a run so our shoulders are tensed and high up to our necks. To correct this, imagine you are holding a plate at your waist. You should be able to run comfortably with this plate at waist level.
- Breathe. It seems simple to remember to breathe, but when we’re anxious we tend to hold our breath too long. While you are running long distances, your breathing should be rhythmic. Count to yourself while breathing in through your nose, “1, 2, 3, 4” and out through your mouth, “5, 6, 7, 8.” Keep your breathing comfortable and controlled. It may take a while to get used to this step. If you cannot inhale to the count of 4 then try a count of 3. For example, breathe in through your nose, “1, 2, 3” and out through your mouth, “4, 5, 6.” As you build up your cardiovascular health, you’ll be able to breathe more deeply.
- Stretch. Set aside a minimum of 10 minutes to stretch after each run. Don’t wait too long; otherwise your muscles will tighten making it difficult to stretch properly. There are various stretches; however it is most important to remember to stretch your hip flexor, hamstring, quadriceps and calf muscles. I’ve linked Pain Therapy YouTube videos of Kate Winzig, DPT, CEAS I, demonstrating these stretches. She also has many more quick videos you can learn from, and she’s very easy to follow!
I know these 4 steps will help you run properly and enjoy it!
BONUS TIP #5 Ditch the music – for now. While you’re learning the proper way to run, focusing on your breathing and form are very important. Listen to your breathing. Is it comfortable and controlled? Can you hear yourself count, “1, 2, 3, 4…”? Remind yourself to relax, loosen your shoulders, and keep your elbows close to your body. These things will become automatic in time. Then you’ll be able to enjoy running with your favorite songs!