The purpose of this post is to provide recommendations and tips to establish a correct running technique. I have always enjoyed long-distance running: without being too emphatic, what I love is the sense of freedom, escape and relaxation that it gives me. I know that not everyone appreciates it, and at times it can be monotonous, and there are people who prefer high intensity workouts in order to alternate the rhythm and concentrate on maximum effort in a limited period of time.
In addition to a more efficient use of the time that is available, another benefit of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is that more calories are burned faster; the 'thermogenic' effect of the variation in intensity makes it possible for your body to continue burning energy even longer after the session has ended. With a regular, low intensity movement your metabolism is not accelerated much, and our body tends to restore the normal metabolic condition that preceded the start of the training session.
For novice runners, or for those who have not run for decades, however, I believe that the choice to find a correct running technique is extremely important, both for the sprints that are part of HIIT as well as for long distance marathons; however it is often underestimated, because we believe that running is like breathing: everyone knows how to do it. Perhaps you are thinking ‘Faya, why so much fuss, surely the most important thing is to get up off the couch and do some exercise!’ That is certainly true, but as with all sports, a correct technique must be adopted in order to a) prevent accidents and future damage (problem with feet, muscle sprains, tibial fasciitis, runner's knee, etc.) and b) optimize the benefits for your body. Of course, because no two people are identical, there is no ideal running technique that is perfect for everyone. However I believe it is worth taking some basic guidelines into account.
1) LAND ON YOUR FOREFOOT
it is well known that, when running, you should avoid landing on your heel (that is, your heel shouldn't be the first part of your foot that touches ground). The reason is that when landing on your heel you create a significant impact, with waves that propagate through your entire body via your skeleton. Considering that each time you run, this impact is repeated approx. 10,000 times, your body is exposed to a very high level of stress that can be avoided. Therefore, it is preferable to land first on your forefoot, and then push using your foot pads. The impact generated by the contact between your forefoot and the ground is much lower, and the contact time between your foot and the ground is shorter: as a result, you can run faster while reducing the stress load. The purpose of this approach is to make your running style softer, lighter and more comfortable, and it also helps tone your calves. To help make it a habit to land on your forefoot, concentrate on your posture, coordinating your arms and legs to control your pace, stride and the point of impact of your foot. Bend your elbows to an angle less than 90 degrees and swing your arms as close as possible to your body. Keep your torso straight with your knees slightly bent.
2) GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS BEFORE STARTING TO RUN:
- a) CREATE A PROGRAM– if you prepare a realistic and well-studied program, it is easier to respect it and meet your objectives. Do not simply download something already prepared from the internet, because it won't be suitable for your own abilities or time and route requirements.
- b) GET A COACH– If you have any doubts about technique or if you feel any pain after running, it might be worth investing in a professional running coach: a few sessions will be enough to get it right.
- c) RECORD YOUR DATA– create a log book to record the distance covered, the duration and your pace every session. The main advantage is to start running in a more 'intelligent' manner, keeping track of your progress or documenting any lack of progress. You can create a profile on Technogym's ‘My Wellness Cloud’, which can be integrated with all the other products you may already have, such as Polar, Runkeeper, MapMyFitness etc.
- d) EAT HEALTHY– A balanced diet that includes all the food groups (protein for muscle repair and growth and hormone production, complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index for stimulating the natural production of glycogen, which is 'fuel' for muscles, 'good' fats such as omega 3, 6 and 9, vitamins and minerals) helps obtain energy from the accumulated reserves and therefore recharge yourself even when you think you have run out of resources.
- e) SLEEP!– sleep is of fundamental importance for all aspects of training.
- f) RECOVER– if you feel completely exhausted and aching after every run, you are probably exaggerating. Breathlessness and stops in your training progress can be symptoms of the fact that you are not letting your body recover after an exertion. Not allowing yourself to recover means, in the best case, not taking full advance of the benefits of the run and, in the worst case, exposing yourself to injuries that can be easily avoided...
- g) INCREASE YOUR EFFORT GRADUALLY– this recommendation complements the previous one. It is probably you won't be able to beat Bolt from one day to the next: you need time and commitment, but by starting today, in 6 months you will see that you made the right decision.
- h) TIME YOURSELF– it might seem obvious, but it is important to measure your current pace. Of course, you can select a more high-tech version: MapMyFitness provides exact statistics.
- i) ALWAYS STRETCH– both before and after running. Stretching is of fundamental importance for preparing your muscles and avoiding accidents.
- j) GET MOTIVATED– get involved! Involve your friends and transform your run into a social event. Follow athletes on Facebook. Tweet messages to professional sprinters and maybe even stay in contact with the cast of 300 on Instagram!