How Quickly Can You Lose Fitness #RunFormFriday

How Quickly Can You Lose Fitness #RunFormFriday

How much will taking time off from running hurt my fitness? It’s one of the most common questions I get from athletes struggling with injury, fighting illness, or hesitant to take a much-needed rest from training. This becomes especially prescient now with training ability reduced by the Coronavirus. As athletes, many of us are paranoid about taking more than a few days off, generally thinking it will ruin our months of meticulous training.

As a coach, I am not immune to being frightened by this irrational fear. I’ve had niggles, injuries and illness that I have tried to train on through in one-way shape or form, generally not ending particularly well!

However, I wanted to share this with you to demonstrate that this is written with the deepest understanding of how hard it can be to listen to science and understand that a few days off isn’t going to end your hopes of running as fast as you’ve dreamed.

When we delve into the effects of taking time off from training, we have to analyse the detraining from two perspectives: 1) your energy systems such as aerobic fitness, threshold and VO2 max; and 2) your structural systems such as your muscles and neuromuscular coordination (how fast and efficiently your brain can tell your body to perform and execute a specific movement).

Effect of detraining on the aerobic system
Because VO2 max is one of the best measurements of an endurance athlete’s physical fitness, it’s the easiest baseline to compare the effects of detraining on your aerobic system. To be brief, VO2 max is an individual’s maximum ability to transport and use oxygen during exercise.

Recent studies show that there is little reduction in VO2max for the first 10 days following inactivity in well-trained athletes. It is important here to mention that all of these guidelines assume you are a well-trained runner, having trained consistently for a 4-6 month period. New athletes will lose fitness at a slightly faster rate since they have a lower base of fitness.

After two weeks of not running, studies show that VO2 max decreases by 6%. After 9 weeks VO2 max drops by 19%. After 11 weeks of no running, Studies demonstrate that VO2 max falls by 25.7% from peak physical fitness. So, as you can see, from an aerobic standpoint, you have very little to worry about if you have to take a break from running for two weeks or less.

This is very important for those runners that need to take a hiatus because of a small injury or are nervous about taking downtime after a long training segment. A 6% decline in VO2 max can be made up with one or two weeks of solid training. In the current situation with Coronavirus, this shouldn’t cause too much of a worry – while we are still allowed outside in the UK.

While percentages are fantastic, what do those numbers really mean for runners? Let’s use an example of a 20 minute 5k runner. A 20 minute 5k runner has a VO2max of roughly 49.81 ml/kg/min (estimated using a calculator). After 2 weeks of no running, the 5k runner would lose 6% of his VO2 max, which would be 46.83 and would now be in 21:05 shape, give or take a few seconds. After 9 weeks of no running, the same 20-minute 5k runner would now be in 24:00 minute 5k shape. After 11 weeks of no running, our poor running friend would be in 25:30 shape.

While this is not exactly ideal, this is the absolute worst-case scenario, with no training done in this time. Even if you can’t get out as often as you might like, or for as long as you may prefer, if you are training then you are preventing this kind of drop off.

Effect of detraining on the structural system
While the reduction in aerobic fitness has been explored in an applicable manner, the effect of detraining on specific running muscles has been harder to find.

However, the little research that does exist about detraining, in general, proposes that the most dramatic reduction in fitness occurs over a 10 to 35-day window. Before and after this window, detraining from a structural perspective isn’t severe.

Also, there is some research on how quickly you benefit from strength training. In short, most of the research shows muscle power declines significantly slower than metabolic factors.

While not run or triathlon-specific, this study on detraining in kayakers shows that over a 5 week period, even minimal training (3 sessions as opposed to around 10!) can stop the decline in physiological gains. Image courtesy of Yann Le Meur Sports.

What does this mean? After 7-10 days of not running, you will lose some muscle power and coordination, but not enough to totally derail your goals.

With a few specific workouts such as hill sprints, you’ll be back to your pre-detraining levels before you know it. If your break from training is longer than two weeks than you’ll have a little bit to make up before you can get back to personal best shape.

What does it all mean?
Research shows you shouldn’t be too worried about losing significant fitness if your break from running is less than two weeks.

You’ll lose some conditioning in your aerobic system and muscles, but pre-inactivity fitness will return quickly. Again, this assumes that you have built a healthy and consistent base of training of 4-6 months prior to taking time off. It’s not the end of your career if you haven’t been training for this long; it simply means that the reduction in fitness will be slightly more pronounced.

After two weeks of not training, significant reductions in fitness begin to occur and you’ll have about 2-8 weeks of training (depending on the length of inactivity) ahead of you to get back to your previous level of fitness.

On the flip side, doing SOME training, whether running, turbo riding, skipping or strength training will slow any losses considerably. If you are injured, there is always something you can do training-wise. In the current situation with Coronavirus, while it may not be ideal that you can’t be out training all the time every day – there is a lot that you can do, and you can come out of this lockdown in a strong position.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

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!

Loading...
Running Intervals – Speed And Fun All Year Round #RunFormFriday

Running Intervals – Speed And Fun All Year Round #RunFormFriday

Running is an easy sport.

Lace up your shoes.

Walk out the door.

Start.

Finish.

But how can you get the most from your running? How can you continue to improve – more just can’t always be the way.

Unless you are a track sprinter, most run races/events/adventures are going to be around 95 to 99% aerobic – which means that you’re using oxygen to help fuel, and as a result the majority of your running should also be aerobic. This means comfortable effort, predominantly maintaining the ability to hold a conversation. If you can hold a conversation, it means that enough air is getting not only to your lungs, but then into the bloodstream to help with converting fat and glycogen (sugars) into energy.

The problem is, if we want to get faster, and want to avoid being a one paced athlete, we need to change things up at least a little bit.

This is where running intervals comes in. Interval training in it’s simplest form means that you aren’t doing everything at the same pace. Running intervals trains your body and mind to be able to change gear – whatever your speed or ability – and trains your body’s systems to shift through the gears too.

Because running is a super high impact sport – 4-5 times your body weight goes through your lower limbs every time your foot hits the ground – we can’t do too much running at a higher intensity. But dialling things in so that you do enough to make a difference isn’t too difficult.

The best part is that you can do some form of interval training all year round. The duration of the intervals might change. The amount of recovery might change. The level of intensity may be what you vary. Even how you divide up your run might alter. Whatever it is that you decide to affect, there are plenty of different options to help mix up your training, keep you interested and motivated, and help keep you improving.

Interval training involves running hard for short periods followed by longer recovery periods where you jog or even walk. Not to labour the point, but the effort periods really need to be tough for running interval training to deliver its benefits, which include improving your running efficiency and your ability to maintain higher speeds for longer. As a rule, if you get halfway through your recovery period and feel able to run hard again, the chances are you didn’t push yourself enough on the previous interval.

Fartlek Training

The simplest form of intervals that you can do is fartlek running intervals. Fartlek, roughly translated from its original Swedish, means “speed play.” Fartlek training can be done quite literally anywhere and can be as structured as you like. So if you enjoy running on the trails and in the middle of nowhere, you don’t need anything fancy to track it.

As a result, fartlek training is great for running in the winter, and it’s perfect for newer/less experienced runners – because it teaches you that running isn’t just about the pace on your watch that you are trying to maintain. It’s all about managing your effort and output – and learning what that feels like.

1) Free-form fartlek

These sets take the words “speed play” to heart – the workout is truly governed by how you feel. After a good warm-up, you can pick up the pace and intensity whenever you feel like it.

Free-form workouts are best done with a group of runners who share the same level of fitness and ability – you will keep each other honest by making sure there isn’t too much time in between hard efforts and ensuring those hard efforts are hard enough. You could vary between efforts, jumping up or down as you see fit, or you could keep stepping the pace up (something that can often happen in groups!).

2) Timed Fartlek

There’s no limit when it comes to setting up these workouts, especially now that so many watches allow you to set a variety of timers. The timed workouts should be organized based on your goals and training needs at various stages of your training program or the year. You could do efforts from 10 seconds in length up to a few minutes – the choices are endless.

If you’re building your levels of fitness at the front end of the year, you’ll want to emphasize your strength and aerobic fitness with intervals of between three and five minutes and give yourself about half the time of the interval as a recovery.

Later on in the year, if you have some races planned, you’ll need to emphasize threshold training, helping you to develop the ability to hold your heart rate at a higher level for longer periods of time. If you’re choosing to develop speed, you should do some shorter intervals with longer recovery times.

Finally, as you get close to your “A” race of the year, you’ll want to test your fitness with some longer intervals with short recoveries done at your goal race pace.

3) Distance Fartlek

This might be something that depends on where you are running (road/trails/sports pitches), but you can decide in advance how you are going to structure you changes in effort/speed. If you’re running on the road, choose lamp posts, road signs or road markings to effect a change on your intensity. If you’re on sports pitches, you may choose to accelerate/decelerate at the corners. If you are on trails, pick trees or markers along your way and kick on, or ease back!

Fartlek training to do running intervals really is as easy as that (although they can be quite hard!).

Beyond fartlek, running interval training can be a bit more specific, either in distance or in time.

Classic Running Intervals

One of the attractions of classical interval training is its measured, precise nature. Workouts can be tailored to a runner’s current ability level; similarly, they provide an accurate benchmark of one’s fitness, allowing achievable competitive goals to be set. Interval training’s repeatability provides comparisons to performances of a month or five years ago.

Conversely, it also possesses an almost infinite variety. By altering different segments of the workout, it’s possible to come up with a new training session each time you run out the door.

To be as specific as possible, it’s a nice where possible to run these sorts of sessions on a flat and open path. If you had the opportunity, running on a track is even better – you know exactly where you stand, and chances are you won’t have to battle a slope – but not everyone has that option all the time.

Interval training was first developed by German physiologists Reindell and Gerschler in the 1930s, based on their findings that the cardiovascular system responded to repeated brief bouts of stress by becoming stronger and more efficient. By keeping the duration of these efforts relatively short, they found that runners could complete a greater volume and intensity than they could during a sustained, continuous effort.

There are four variables in classic interval training, easily remembered by the mnemonic D-I-R-T.

D for Distance is rather self explanatory, referring to the length of each repetition.

I stands for Interval, which in Reindell and Gerschler’s system is the recovery period between repetitions. It is during this interval, especially the first 10 to 15 seconds, that most of the training effect occurs. Besides the duration of the interval, the activity (usually walking or jogging) figures into the equation. One of the original principles of interval training that is still accepted in some circles is that the next repeat should not begin until the athlete’s pulse has dropped to 120 beats per minute.

R is for Repetitions, the number of fast sessions to be performed. In longer workouts, repetitions can be broken down into sets, with a longer recovery interval than between individual reps.

Finally, the T stands for Time, how fast each repetition should be run. This can be constant or variable, depending on the goal of the workout.

All four of these variables are interrelated, and like a mathematical equation, changing one either affects the others or the final outcome. Knowing how this interaction functions will allow you to better understand interval training, and how to modify your workouts to your best advantage.

If you look at an example session, it may take this form: 8 x 400 holding 90 – 2 mins ri. That’s track language for eight efforts of 400 meters run in 90 seconds, with a two minute recovery. To increase the difficulty of this workout, there are four changes we could make to the formula (and like any school science experiement, it’s sensible to only alter ONE of them at a time).

The number of repeats could be raised to 10, 12 or more, the distance could be increased to 600 or 800 meters, the pace could be increased to 85 or 80 seconds, or the recovery time could be reduced to 1:45 or 1:30. Obviously, if the original session was too tough, changing any of the variables the opposite way would make it easier to complete.

Which change you make depends on your goal for that training session. To learn to run at a particular pace (e.g. six minute miles) in a race, keep the pace the same and reduce the distance and/or increase the number of reps. On the other hand, if you are working on being able to run farther at a strong pace, lengthening the reps may be a better option.

This leads to what I feel are the two most important rules of effective interval training:

1. Go to each workout with a goal, and a plan. Don’t just say “I need to get fast, I’m going to smash myself to bits.” Different workouts have different training effects; 20 x 200 and 4 x 1,000 have little in common besides the total distance being the same. With this knowledge, and the understanding of the basic principles of interval training, you can sensibly follow the next rule:

2. Be flexible in your workouts, but within reason. Many runners throw speed into their weeks and plans haphazardly. They figure speedwork is speedwork, and it doesn’t matter what they do, it’s got to make them faster. Perhaps, but doing the workout of someone pointing for a 5K next month may not help you very much in your marathon in the fall. Beware of falling prey to a mindless group mentality. Refer back to Rule 1, and see if you can adapt or modify the workout to fit your training goals (chances are, most workouts can!).

With all of this, you can pick a speed session of some sort for any time of the year. When you are building fitness, or having fun after races have finished, being specific isn’t important. Doing some form of running intervals breaks up the week, keeps you motivated and feeling like you have done something fun. When the work really begins, you can start with some short sharp intervals to get the legs moving; maybe move to something a bit longer as you get fitter and stronger to improve your general pace and overall speed; and then work back down to the short stuff to get really fast!

Just be careful with how much speed running you do in a week. Running harder and faster puts more stress through the body. So as mentioned up at the top, no need to overload it more than is necessary. Make sure that you do your recoveries properly easy and let the heart rate come down. One high speed session a week is plenty. Anything else of intensity shouldn’t really be much more than tempo – or 7/10 effort.

Everyone has their favourite sorts of interval session. I’d love to know what yours is!

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in-depth understanding on how to put this into practice, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!

Loading...
Time Crunched Running #RunFormFriday

Time Crunched Running #RunFormFriday

No Time to Run? 5 Creative Ways to Find Time

Our lives are busier than ever. We are all frantically juggling family life and long working hours; some statistics showing the average working week to be close to 36 hours, with some professions working 40 or more. That’s before we even include sleep, cooking, housework, social engagements, study and additional commitments.

With so many demands placed on us, it’s no wonder that training slips down the list of priorities. But are we really that busy? Or are we just poor at time management or just making excuses?

Scheduling a run can be tough. But with these tips, we’ve got you covered!

 

Make running a priority using creative runner friendly hacks

The busier we get, the more creative we have to be about how we spend our time. It’s easy to waste many hours on the internet, watching TV, on your mobile phone or just frittering time away. You have to get tough with yourself and become incredibly efficient – don’t get distracted by things are less important. In our frantic, busy lives, if you really want to find time to run, you have to find a way to make it work and get organized.

The main thing that stops us finding time to exercise is not giving it a high enough priority in our lives.

When we have enough time, we usually manage to fit exercise in, but when we get busy, exercise is the thing that gets pushed aside, because it’s not deemed as important. But running is one of the best ways to help us deal with stress and overwhelm. Yet the time when we need it most, is the time we tend to short-change ourselves.

We all know intrinsically that exercise is one of the most important things we can do for our health and we need to make it a top priority, but it’s easier said than done. People who make exercise high in their list of priorities are generally the ones who manage to fit it in. They understand the connection between physical fitness, health and mental wellbeing.

That is certainly true for me. I’ve learned over the years that training is a vital part of my life. It’s like medication, and without it I feel physically sick, grumpy and can’t function well. That doesn’t mean I’m always joyful about going for a run or getting in the pool, it just means that I need it in my life and on the days I train I ALWAYS feel better.

So I’ve learned to prioritize. It might mean I go to bed early, or it might mean I miss out on a social event or a TV show, so I can get up early the next day to train. It’s not an obsession; it’s just a choice. And in our busy lives, we can’t have it all. We have to make choices. Life is about balance, sometimes you need to make the social choices. Sometimes you need to make the training ones.

Schedule your run into your day for a guaranteed win

There are two other behaviors that set successful runners apart from the ‘excuse makers’. ‘The other thing they do is schedule it into the day. They know it’s high priority, and they don’t immediately move it when something else comes up. They also recognize that a short session is better than none at all. Even just 15 minutes some days is easier to fit into gaps in your schedule, and keeps you in the routine of regular exercise. Little and often is the key. It’s better to be consistent, but do regular short runs, rather than overwhelm yourself with big mileage goals.

On that note, I find standard training plans for busy people often don’t work. You need to devise your own flexible plan to fit in around your own lifestyle or work with a coach who understands you and can tailor your training to your life conflicts. This is where our coaching plans comes in! Learn HOW to train, what you need to do to meet your goals and work with your schedule to make it happen. A strict training plan (which isn’t personalized to you) can add more stress and the sense of failure when you don’t manage to follow it.

Don’t ‘go hard’ all the time

Pushing hard every single time you go out could be making it difficult for you to stay on track with your training. I often encourage people to back off in a large percentage of their sessions as it helps get the best out of them consistently.

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]If your brain always associates running with pain, eventually it’ll persuade you to stop.[/clickandtweet]

If on the other hand, your brain associates running with pleasure and enjoyment (perhaps a slower pace and gradual increase of miles, rather than forcing things) then it’s far more likely you’ll continue and WANT to go training, rather than dread it. Try it and see what happens.

5 Ways to Fit Your Training into a Busy Schedule

  1. Get your training done as early in the day as you can. If you’re waking up for an early morning, you could go to bed early. It sets you up for the day and makes your more productive. We can ALWAYS find something else to do, so get your run done first.
  1. Make it a habit. Habits are easy to form when you do them every day. Even if you don’t run every day, try to make it the same TIME each day you run. It helps to have a trigger. For example, you run immediately after getting up, or always at lunchtime at work. The idea is that you embed it as something you do automatically. On days where you don’t run, you could do some stretching, strengthening work, or even just work on your balance.
  1. Don’t underestimate the power of a training partner. Training with someone else at least once a week is a great way to make sure you get out there and run. Book in with a friend or group session. The commitment of meeting someone else will mean you’ll be less likely to let them down. If you do not have anyone else in your area to run with, you could set up a virtual running partner with friends on social media, or even using Strava.
  2. Make sure your training schedule works for everyone else in the household. If you’re finding it tough to get out, and the people around you are complaining or encouraging you stay at home, it makes it doubly difficult. Perhaps get them to join you? Or at least make sure they know your plans and how important it is to you. Don’t allow anyone else to derail you or your enthusiasm. Kids could come out on the bike with you, partners could run with you (or do one of your supplementary exercises), or running could mean that once you’re done training, you spend time with them.
  3. And finally, leave some gaps in your schedule. Life has a habit of disrupting plans and things always take longer than you think. All time management systems work best when you build some spaces in for contingency. It reduces stress and gives you another window to run when things go off schedule.

You have 168 hours each and every week. If you work a 40-hour week and sleep 8 hours every night, that leaves 72 hours or just over 10 hours per day. Of the remaining time how much of it do you spend doing things that benefit you less than training; watching television, wasting time on your computer, playing video games or on your mobile phone? I know that it’s something I’m guilty of!

[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]168 hours per week. 40 hours working, 8 hours sleep(!), you have 70 hours left, some of which could be used for training. How are you going to organise your life to do the runs that make you feel better?[/clickandtweet]

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

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!

Loading...

Posture – It’s Not Just For Running #RunFormFriday

Posture – It’s Not Just For Running #RunFormFriday

The main thing I look to assist with when I look at athletes running styles is their posture while running. Good posture will help keep you injury free (apart from over training…!). It will also provide you with more power.

 

However running is only a small part of your week. On the assumption that you might run 3 times a week, and that your runs take a total of around 2-3 hours, that still leaves you with 165 hours in the week. 165 hours where your posture might not be quite so strong!

Good posture stems from not just having a strong core – the muscles from your torso and glutes, front and back of your body – but actually using it as well. One of the things many of us do when we relax and aren’t thinking so much is we have our pelvis in “anterior tilt”. This means that the top of your pelvis/hip structure is tilted forward. If you imagine your pelvis like a bowl of water it might help you visualise this.

 

pelvic tilt bowl of water

To level off that bowl of water that is your pelvis, while standing squeeze your glutes slightly. At the same time draw your belly button toward your spine. You might feel your spine lengthen when you do this!

Good posture standing

If you find feeling this difficult you can try standing against a wall or even lying flat on your back. Either way, the aim is to eliminate space between your lower (lumbar) spine and the surface.

Once you can feel that “core” engage, try walking with it. The main key here is to keep that belly button drawn in slightly. Every now and again just let everything switch off and see how different that feels.

Good posture walking

You can take all of this in to your running as well, and by keeping your pelvis tilted correctly under your spine you should stay more stable as well as limiting chances of injury.

Because we as humans spend a lot of time sitting, it’s worth occasionally thinking about good posture while sat at a desk too

Good posture sitting

Of course no-one is going to remember to keep good posture all of the time. And things like heels on shoes – even small heel raise – can affect how you stand. But a couple of seconds thought a few times a day can have a big impact on your body. It can also influence your well being and even your confidence.

Send us a message or leave a comment and let us know if you have any questions! We all have our own thoughts on the matter, and we all have something different that suits us.

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!

How Good Is Your Balance #RunFormFriday

How Good Is Your Balance #RunFormFriday

How good is your balance. Does it matter when it comes to running? The definition of running is to have a suspended phase where you have both feet off the ground – and by association, most of your running is only done with one foot in contact with the floor.

When you run, you only have one foot on the ground at any one time.

[bctt tweet=”Good balance and stability on one leg is the key to injury free running” username=”@Tri_coaching”]

A simplified way of looking at running then, is that it is a series of single leg hops from one leg to the other. This then, is why being able to balance and be stable is a really useful skill to master.

Can you stand on one leg? Can you do it without wobbling?! You might not be injury prone (fingers crossed) but if you can’t hold a rock solid single leg balance – without putting your arms out for support – then you may be losing a reasonable amount of power.

Balance on one leg

Being able to keep your hips level while standing still on one leg is a skill to master!

Improving Your Balance

Try this: stand on one leg as in the image above. Concentrate on maintaining good posture – lengthen your neck and stand tall, and squeeze your buttocks to help control your pelvis. If you are balancing on your right leg, try pressing a finger into the side of your glutes to help focus on switching those muscles on. It’s your glutes that will help keep you upright, stop you wobbling and keep your hips level and not dropping down.

If you find this is easy – or you progress to the point where this is, try closing your eyes while you balance or adding in a small knee bend. You only have to introduce a small amount of movement to make balance a challenge again.

As an exercise for helping to strengthen and improve your running, this is a really easy one to fit into your day; you don’t even need to make special time for it. You can try balancing on one foot while you brush your teeth, cook/wash up, or if you are stood waiting in a queue (maybe make sure you are reasonably stable for this last one!). I like to do 2-3 lots of 30 seconds a day on each leg, just maintaining that proprioception and stability. I’ll do one eyes open, one with my eyes closed, and the third just doing slight knee bends.

Finally, if you want something a little more advanced, there are a multitude of different single leg exercises. Here is one of my favourites!

As always, I encourage your comments, experiences, and questions about cadence and technique in the comments section. 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!

Loading...

Running Relaxed #RunFormFriday

Running Relaxed #RunFormFriday

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.

Running Relaxed

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.

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!