By Randy Behr (USAG Red Cloud Sports, Fitness and Aquatics)August 18, 2010
RED CLOUD GARRISON, South Korea - Fall is approaching, which means the weather will get a little cooler and more people will be running outside. Here are a few tips easy to implement:
First, make sure you get an adequate warm-up. Not a stretch, which is static.
Second, engage in a 3 to 5 minute walk, elliptical or bicycle - a light activity before beginning your run. This will elevate your core temperature before beginning the next phase.
The warm-up should be functional and dynamic in nature. What does this mean' It means perform activities your body would do within the course of a normal work day such as twisting, moving or bending. It also means movements that require multiple joints and muscles. Examples, of these activities include Soldier walks, A skips, B skips, pawing and shuffling to walking lunges.
Don't just leave your house or office and go run. This is not efficient and it's unsafe. Warming up using dynamic movements doesn't only decrease the chance of injury, but research shows it actually improves performance. A couple of ways it does this is it provides a muscle memory for the activity that one is participating in. This is very important when performing any activity. It also allows the body to provide oxygen to the body and muscles.
Did you ever wonder why when you begin your run the first 10 to 30 seconds seems so difficult' Almost as if you are tired already' What one experiences is the first energy source being utilized is the phosphagen system - the non-oxygen phase. This feeling doesn't last very long so there is no need to worry. Rather, keep it in the back of your mind as a reminder not to start off too quickly.
Now we are ready to begin running. I caution the beginner, intermediate or advanced runner to not run too quickly as you will deplete your energy system. Once the energy system is depleted it will take some time to replenish and certainly not before the race or run is complete.
Stand tall, shoulders back and down, chest out, chin up focused on a point in the distance with a slight forward lean that is almost unnoticeable.
Your hands should be relaxed, not clenched or in a Spiderman position, but rather where they look like you are holding a tea cup with your first finger and thumb touching gently. Next, the arms should be locked in at 90 degrees and should remain very close to this position throughout the movement. Don't use dolphin flips. The movement should consist of front arm thumb going to chin level and back arm going to glute and alternating on every swing.
Once you have this done you should focus on gaining a rhythm where you feel comfortable. Basically, get into your zone. One way to get into your zone is to use tempo. Many runners count to themselves in an upbeat pace of repeating one-two, one-two over and over until it becomes repetitive. The arms and legs should move at the same speed.
As far as breathing techniques, different distances and types of runs (incline/decline) involve different breathing techniques through the nose and out through the mouth.
If one encounters an incline in terrain or head wind drop the chin slightly toward your chest and the surface area will decrease. This will lessen your drag, decrease your resistance and improve your speed.
Another trick for inclines or hills is to shorten your stride. Make your strides shorter and quicker in pace. Don't try to lengthen or power through or you will drain your energy and tire out your leg muscles.
Keep these tips in mind and notice the improvement.