First let me state the obvious. People make running way more complicated than it needs to be. Sure, there’s cadence, pace, foot placement, etc. but for a new runner it’s all Greek so let’s keep it simple and just focus on what to do with your body when you run.
Ok. Start running. Now relax and breathe. Great start.
Let’s move from the top down.
- Lift your shoulders up and loop them back slightly to allow your chest muscles to open and your lungs to expand fully. This will also prevent tension in your upper back and neck.
- Your arms should be bent at close to 90 degrees with your elbows staying close to your body. Your arms should be moving back and forth – think of your arms pumping as pistons but don’t force this motion – allow it to happen naturally.
- Imagine you are holding a potato chip with your forefinger and thumb. This will keep your hands relaxed.
- Most importantly keep your hands and arms moving front and back – not crossing your body. This will just create extra movement that is not beneficial. Think forward motion.
- Keep your belly tight.
- You should be leaning forward slightly. Gravity becomes your friend and you’ll be pulled forward into a run more easily. Not convinced? Stand with feet apart and lean forward from the ankles and as you start to lose your balance move your feet forward. This is the beginning of the running motion.
Guess what? If you nail down your upper body movement, the legs will do what they naturally are supposed to do and you’ll be running. (See the lean forward test from above.)
Now don’t get me wrong, the hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hips, etc. work in concert to keep your lower body stable. But you don’t have to do anything to them or for them while running.
After your run, if you want to keep running and stay healthy, there’s work to do. Foam rolling, mobility and stretching become vital for the lower body and also helpful for the upper body.
Good luck on your running journey! Relax and have fun.
Now go run!