By Mike Macro
As in any vocation or enterprise there are quicker ways to accomplish the given task. For example, changing the brakes on your car or paying your taxes for the first time. These tasks may seem overwhelming if you do not have the correct tools and knowledge. The same can be said for even the most rudimentary task such as running.
Before taking part in any exercise regime please seek medical advice from your doctor and physiotherapist if you have been leading a sedentary life style or recovering from an injury.
The equipment needed is quite obvious, such as a pair of decent running shoes. Many retailers who specialize in running apparel hire employees who favor the sport. So, for information on running shoes, seek a store that specializes in that area and not one which relies on the fashion industry for direction and profit. Good runners will help protect your structure and form as you run.
Clothing which allows your body to breath is an added bonus for several reasons. Regulating your body temperature at a constant (close to your personal normality) will allow you to train longer and more comfortably. Generating a good sweat is not a goal to aim for as a marker for hard work. Maintaining hydration or replenishing liquid is important when exercising providing that heat and moisture exchange is allowed through natural processes. Also make sure that your training clothing fits comfortably as sometimes material will chaff the skin around your joints and other areas.
As children part of our play was to run. The motion was instinctive to our body type and we pumped our arms and legs as quickly as possible and allowed gravity to take over. Not an efficient way of locomotion. A lot of energy is being used for little result. Many people have not changed their approach.
The fact is some people were better than others...they may have had grace or natural ability. This suggests that there is technique involved. Depending on your goal for running--whether it is long distance or sprints--certain methodology is available to be used.
I have come across information from other professionals who suggest and discuss the most economical amount of paces per minute and address this by changing their gait. In my opinion this is false methodology as each person is different and a natural, relaxed gait should be developed for each individual.
Short distances and sprints
Plyometric exercises are easy to use to develop explosive power and muscle memory. For example, when bounding over 25 yards allow your arms to assist in elevation. This will also help to develop desired mechanics for sprinting. Other methods to increase speed are:
- Using a "quickness parachute" (attached to your waist)
- Using a sled and harness (attached to your waist)
- Using bungee/rubber tubes (attached to your waist and or ankles)
Basically, all of the above challenge our ability for forward locomotion body mechanics and the planes of motion required for this function. Long distances
Stretching, especially the hip flexor, will help your stride length. The longer the stride and easier gait, the more distance will be covered.
Many peoples around the world who still live off the land and rely on their fitness, such as the Aborigines of Australia, have a natural gait. These folks can run all day and run down a kangaroo. When doing this they carry their tools of the field such as spears and knives, at a low carry.
This is a similar position adopted by many top athletes. The reason for this is that the human body will find its most economical way to move. Unnecessary arm movement will only add to more consumption of precious calories better used for the desired task.
If you are about to start running after a sabbatical, take it easy and adopt a method of combined running and walking for several minutes over the first week. After a couple of days increase the running. I suggest that a 5 minute turn around is a good idea and increase the run by a minute each run.