Memorial day is less than a week away, and you know what that means; lots of pull ups, push ups, air squats and, everyone’s favorite, running. Not only is running a part of what is arguably CrossFit’s most widely recognized hero WOD, it’s also a staple in our fitness program. Are you struck with paralyzing dread when you see running on the white board? If so, let’s do something about it!
Make sure you’re getting an appropriate dose. Too much change too quickly can sabotage your efforts to improve your running capacity. Perhaps you have experienced shin splints, knee pain, or achy Achilles tendons during or after running. Paying attention to how much overall stress you place on your ankles, knees, and hips is very important in making sure your path to progress is as smooth as possible. If you regularly experience discomfort around your joints or cramps in your shins or calves due to running, you may need to reduce the distance of your runs in workouts (perhaps alternating between running and a machine) or the number of times you run per week. Take into consideration the training you’ve already put in that week, too. Running may not be the best option for you if you just did a significant of jumping the day before. Put simply, start with what you know you can handle, then gradually increase the volume (total distance per week) or frequency (times per week) from there.
Address your technique. Running is one of, if not, the most popular form of exercise due to its accessibility. You can just go outside and do it! Except, you shouldn’t just do it. Do it with purpose. Take the time to learn how to run properly and well. You’ll become a better runner and you’ll save yourself some aches and pains. Here are the basic points of performance:
- Strike the ball of the foot. That is, as close to midfoot as you can without your heel touching the ground. Your calves are your body’s natural shock absorbers, so use them! Striking at the heel can cause shin splints, knee pain, or hip pain over time. Inversely, striking on the toes can cause pain in the Achilles tendon.
- Land with your foot underneath your hip. In order to run efficiently, the leg needs to be able to push you forward. Landing with your foot in front of you reduces your leg’s ability to propel you and actually acts as a brake. Keep in mind that your foot will extend in front you, but it shouldn’t land in front of you.
- Lean your torso forward. This will help you to strike your foot underneath you, and will keep your moment forward to help you run faster.
- Use your glutes. As you drive into the ground with your foot, squeeze your glute. This will add to the power of each stride.
These are just a couple suggestions to help you improve your running game. Taking the time to adapt gradually and refine your technique will pay off big time. Don’t shy away from it! If you need guidance, ask a coach to examine your form and create a plan. We’re always happy to help!
Keep working hard, fit fam!