Sometimes wanting to run faster, push harder and over-thinking often ends up putting on the brakes. Staying relaxed when you’re tired/stressed and your body feels like lead weight is not easy. To maintain efficiency, fluidity and actually run faster with more power however, you have to be able to stay relaxed and not “force” your pace.
Whenever you get tense and uptight, you waste energy and put your body in a position that doesn’t help it function at it’s best. When you get tense, it changes the way you run, so you end up running a way that your body isn’t used to, different muscles and patterns get used. This adds a second level of fatigue.
The bottom line is you’re slowing yourself down.
Tension Reset – Run Relaxed
The first challenge in getting relaxed and removing all of that tension is to catch yourself in the act. A coach or outside observer can help you figure out where your tense spots are so that you make the right adjustments in order to provide relief. Eventually you’ll be able to sense those tight fists, tense shoulders or clenched jaw and take actions to reset your form. Shift the focus of your hard workouts from hitting splits to fixing how you’re running.
It’s important to practice running tired. So, in practice, it’s paramount to learn how to prevent the tensing up. Even if it means running a repeat slightly slower at first, do it. The key is to get it so embedded that you don’t press when it’s time to go. Stay relaxed. It’s easy to say but harder to do.
Top Tension Spots
Shoulders: As your arms and shoulders start rise up around your ears, one of the best things you can do is to just drop the arms, open up the hands, and shake them out for a second. Try wiggling your fingers. This also helps on the bike!
Fists: The same sort of trick applies to the clenched fists, which often go hand in hand with the high shoulders. Sometimes if you go to the other extreme, it might get your body to realize how tense you are. So, if your fists are clenched, squeeze them even harder for a second and then relax. Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist used to keep half a squash ball in his batting gloves to stop hip gripping the bat so tightly – working almost like a miniature stress ball.
Jaw: Clenching your jaw isn’t only expending unnecessary energy, it’s also inhibiting your oxygen intake. Tricks here are opening and closing your mouth, making an exaggerated yawn, or taking a longer, slow breath and exhaling.
Neck: The neck is a big one you see. People start tightening up or straining forward with it. Try rolling the neck forward for a second.
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Don’t Force It
It sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes runners can just try too hard. The stress of wanting to run faster and over-thinking can end up slowing you down and getting in your own way. This tends to happen when runners start to focus more on hitting splits rather than the act of running.
As always, I encourage your comments, experiences, and questions about technique in the comments section. If you’ve got any relaxation tips of your own leave them too! See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!