By Hannah Alderfer, BA, CPT, FMSC & runner-extraordinaire!
- Pick a Goal Race. If you’re lacking motivation to keep running, put a race on your calendar that you can look forward to doing. For myself, if I don’t have something that I’m training for, I lose focus with my workouts and don’t stay as scheduled with my training. If you really want to be a better runner, then plan and train for a race that you are excited about doing. Pick something fun and challenging that will keep you on track.
- Find Training Partners. Find a friend or a running group to join. There are plenty in the area and if you’d like to know about them feel free to ask one of the Trainers at IF. Running partners are great because they will keep you accountable to show up to the run and help keep you on track. It’s also just more enjoyable to run with others.
- Proper Gear. You can run in just about any kind of clothing and be fine, but every runner needs a good pair of shoes. That means taking the time to go to a quality running shoe store (Second Sole, Fleet Feet, Vertical Runner, even Dicks) and get fitted for the right shoe for you. If you don’t know what kind of shoe you need you can quickly take the wet foot test to find out what type of arch you have to determine the type of shoe you should wear. You can do this by wetting the bottom of your foot and stepping onto a concrete floor (or brown paper bag or paper towel) to get the image on the bottom of your foot. A high arch means you see no arch in your footprint and you more than likely supinate. People with a high arch will fit best in a neutral or high cushion shoe. A flat arch means that the majority of the bottom of your foot shows up on the paper. People with a flat arch are more likely to pronate when they run and therefore need a stability or motion control shoe. For those with a neutral arch, you will see about half your arch in a footprint. A neutral arch is more likely to have proper foot mechanics and so a neutral shoes or slight one with light stability works well.
- Correct Form. If you’re constantly struggling with injuries or wondering if you’re running form is correct, then you may want to check 3 key things: glutes, cadence, and arm swing. Your glutes should be your powerhouse muscle for running. By strengthening your glutes, you will teach your body to have good pelvic positioning and avoid over striding. A few exercises to strengthen your glutes include glute bridges and glute kickbacks. By stretching your hip flexors (which get overused & tight) with a kneeling hip flexor stretch you’ll promote a neutral pelvic position. Cadence is the number of steps that you take per minute, and having a cadence that is too low means that your stride is too long and you’ll land a lot harder on your heels. For proper cadence, try to hit between 180-200 steps per minute (or every 10 seconds count 27–33 steps). And lastly, appropriate arm swing means that you do not cross the midline, elbows remain at about 90 degrees, and you utilize the backswing of your arms to propel you forward. Tight pectorals or weak back muscles can inhibit arm movement, so stretch out the chest by using a swiss ball & strengthening your back muscles.
- The Extras. Don’t forget the extras! A proper warm up, strength training, and stretching and foam rolling are just as important as running itself. Strength training decreases the risk for injury, increases endurance and strength, and improves running economy so that you are more efficient (check out https://www.intelligentfitnesspt.com/race-preparation-at-intelligent-fitness/ for a strength training video made especially for runners!). Stretching and foam rolling will help with recovery as well as loosen up tight areas that could lead to injury. One last thing you’ll want to do is track your runs. One way to do so is by using Running2win.com (website or app option). Running2win is a great online tool that I’ve used since college. It helps me to keep track of workouts, races and training and shows how I’ve improved over the years. A simple paper calendar works well also!