With the New York City Marathon just around the corner (we hope), many athletes, workout enthusiasts and fitness newbies are looking to the streets or the treadmill for a spot of cardio.
Running seems to feature in most people's workout regimes to some extent, and there's no doubt that when done properly, it can be great for heart, body and mind.
Below are my top tips for making the most of your run, whether it's 10 minutes on the treadmill, around the park with your dog or 26.2 miles around New York City.
Carrying tension in your arms, face, neck and shoulders will reduce your efficiency. Try loosening up a little, especially in your arms and fingers. Unclench your hands and let your jaw move around a little, too.
Focus on feeling your diaphragm doing the work and not your chest. Your breathing should be rhythmic and deep. Exhale with controlled force and when you pick up the pace, don't let your breathing get shallow.
3. Run Tall
At the gym, I see a lot of runners "folding" in the middle when their feet connect with the treadmill. Gravity and a weak core will cause this, and the compression wastes valuable energy that could be used to propel you forward. Pretend someone is pulling you up by the shoulders, thrust your hips forward and focus on stability. Engage your core, too, and you'll find it much easier to stand tall and run forward.
When you land on your heel, you are effectively applying the brakes to your forward momentum. A heel landing means you've moved your center of gravity too far forward, requiring more energy to keep you moving. Your heel has a small surface area too, so landing on it makes the rest of your body work that much harder to stabilize you, which again requires more energy. Shorten your stride. It may feel odd at first, but it's more efficient than a heavy heel landing.
5. Softly, Softly
The quieter your footfalls, the more efficiently you're running. Try running more quietly; you'll find yourself switching to a mid-foot strike and a shorter, quicker, more efficient stride.
Take a short run on a treadmill with a mirror in front. If one arm is swinging around or bent more than the other, then you have an imbalance that can slow you down and even lead to injury. Target the weak side with some flexibility and strength exercises.
-- Jamie Galloway
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