From a very young age I’ve wanted to cross the finish line in an event like the Boston Marathon. I’ve dreamed of the sense of accomplishment as I’d feel, but I had always lacked the athletic drive to make it happen. It was about this same time last year when I stumbled across a link to information about the first Annual Ribfest 5k Run/Walk. In a moment of spontaneity, I signed myself up. Mission accomplished; I was going to start running.
It only took a couple runs to realize I had gotten in over my head, that the idea of training for something of this magnitude, without the assistance of someone a bit more knowledgeable, was ridiculous. This realization came when just moments into a morning jog, I started to feel a burning sensation in the front of my legs. It felt as if my shins were on fire. This was the day I discovered shin splints – hair line fractures caused by the impact of running.
After consulting a doctor and being ordered to stop running for a few weeks, I did a little bit of research and discovered that my gym teachers had clearly not done their job over the years. Not once had any of them, upon demanding that we take off and run a mile in the state dictated time frame, mentioned that there was a right and wrong way to run. That you can’t just take off and have everything be ok.
Everything from your head to your toes plays an important role in your running posture. To keep your head in a good place, be sure you’re watching the horizon in front of you instead of your feet. Keep the muscles in your shoulders from tightening and rising while you run. Bend your elbows to about 90 degrees and hold your hands in a loose fist. Be sure to not slouch while running. Keep your spine straight to allow for maximum lung capacity. Holding your head and shoulders correctly assists with the spine and hip posture.
The correct stride depends is different between sprinters and distance runners. Sprinters need to lift their knees higher to get more speed, while distance runners should keep theirs lower to conserve muscle strength. Launch from your toes and land between your heel and the middle of your foot. You should be able to roll from land to launch to minimize the impact to your joints.
Other beneficial ideas
- 1. Get fitted for running shoes – To a beginner this seems like a very pricey investment, but it’s worth every penny. The right shoes lessen the impact and cushion the blow from repeatedly hitting the hard pavement. Trust me, your shin, knees and ankles will thank you.
- 2. Try to enlist a running buddy – Running alone at first can be hard, especially if you’re not used to doing so. Seek out a friend to jog alongside you, even if it’s every once in a while. This will help with your motivation. It could also provide that edge of competition needed to improve your times a little.
- 3. Join a runner’s forum – This is just a means of extra support. There’s also a lot of advice available from seasoned runners. They can answer questions about form and best brands of shoes, even best foods to fuel your runs.
Information on form: