Running can be a transformative activity for many of us. It can certainly help us reach our fitness goals but it can also be limiting to our overall movement goals. But by rethinking our running habits we can maximize running’s benefits and minimize its shortcomings.
4. Stop and Smell the Freakin' Roses
Staying in your "running pose" for the entire run isn’t as beneficial as breaking up that repetitive movement with some counter movements. This can be a simple as taking a short walk break where you shake out your arms or deliberately take larger steps to release your hip flexors. But to really make the most of your full range of motion, you can throw in some squats, walking lunges, side gallops, jumping jacks, burpees, or even drop and give me 20.
Or, if you are out for a pleasure run (rather than a specific training run) why not actually stop running and examine those berries growing on the side of the trail? Or give that friendly dog a chin scratch? Or, literally, stop and smell the roses?
5. Wear Different Shoes
When I was a serious runner and was putting in over 100 kilometres per week, I had four pairs of shoes that I cycled through. A minimalist pair that helped me build and maintain foot strength, a cushioned pair for my longer runs, some racing flats for my speed work, and another pair that I just liked the look of and wore to the gym.
Shoes with a narrow toe-box can reduce how much you use the muscles that allow your foot to widen as you put weight on it. When you do this, your toes should naturally splay away from each other. If they aren’t allowed to make this movement, at least some of the time, you could develop some foot issues.
Also, a large heel-drop on a shoe can change the range of motion that your ankles go through. Believe it or not, this affects your knees, hips, spine, and all the way up to your neck and head.
6. Run Tech Free
Wearing technology every time you go out running can intrude on your mind's ability to give itself over to the body, which is when you really experience that feeling known as the "runners high." Plus, leaving your devices behind occasionally can free you from any preconceived notions you have of how far, fast, and long you are able to run.
It's easier to be aware of your head position, arm swing, knee drive, and footfall when you aren’t mesmerized by the mad rhymes of the Beastie Boys.
Leaving your MP3 player behind can occasionally be helpful too. Learning to pace yourself using just your footsteps, the sound of your breath, and the feeling of your stride is a great way to perfect your pace. It is also easier to be aware of your head position, your arm swing, your knee drive, and footfall when you aren’t mesmerized by the mad rhymes of the Beastie Boys.
7. Try Multi-tasking
On the other hand, if you can run farther or more often while getting something else done while you run, then let yourself indulge in some tech every once in a while. Mixing work-time and run-time is a great idea by taking a meeting on the run using some bluetooth headphones. Listen to an audiobook while you run (or a podcast) can help you learn something new. There is even some dictation software that could allow you to write the next great novel while you run.
Figuring out ways to be productive while you run means you may be inclined to make more time for it, and that is never a bad thing.