This week on running to fitness: some personal posture points, running technique gems, and finally, news of a very wet 10k race.
One of the great things I’m finding about working with a physio, a massage therapist and a pilates instructor, is that it really feels like there is a team of people all looking after me, and, looking at my body objectively. I’ve always felt that when I’m making an effort to stand up straight, I’m standing as tall as I can and with good posture. However, my pilates instructor spotted that I rock back on to my heels, so my weight is shifted backward. With some help I’ve learned to shift the weight so that it is centered above my toes when standing. This is quite a different sensation for me and feels like I’m leaning forward all the time! Without these objective observations made on my posture I would have just carried on getting back pain, and other injuries, and I would not be enjoying my running as much as I am now.
Another postural change that has been intimated to me has been the need to push my chin in! My body before running to fitness started must have resembled an elongated S shape: with my head sticking forward, my shoulders curved, my beer belly protruding and my bum sticking out! By switching my abs on when running, making my ribs soft, relaxing my shoulders and tucking my chin in; my spine, correctly aligned, can handle the impact of hitting the ground. I’ve also found that by tucking my chin in and reaching up through my crown that I grow slightly taller and my mobility in my neck is increased.
Last week, John showed me how to start a good running posture. By leaning forward (with an upright trunk) the centre of gravity is towards, but not directly over, the front foot as it lands. This week we expanded on this… John explained that I should be landing on balls of feet and scuffing the ground with quick feet not striking with my heel!
John made an adjustment to my ribs. We spoke about using, what feels to me like a little muscle, the Lower Trapezius, to pull my shoulders back. (Although apparently the Lower Trapezius is not that little)! I’ve started using this muscle in Pilates when lifting my arms doing side-bends. This can be an under-used muscle and I had predominantly been using my Upper Trapezius to move my arm.
To help my stiff shoulders we also talked about what my arms should be doing during running. Locking my elbows at ninety degrees, my arms move in parallel (and in time with my legs) but really lifting back and moving the shoulder. John suggested that my hands should only just become visible in my peripheral vision when running. This parallel action of the arms helps the momentum built up to go in one direction – no energy is wasted by flailing body parts!
My homework this week was to find a picture of Paula Radcliffe running on the beach. I found the photo John was referring to – it’s a side profile view and you can really see the posture with the tucked in chin and arms reaching back.
I ran a slightly hilly and mixed terrain 10k on the weekend. It threw it down with rain throughout (very refreshing)! I found that I really noticed the difference switching on abs makes in giving me more hip stability through uneven surfaces and puddles (every part of the body continues in the same direction). The arm backlift really helped going uphills and towards the end as I pushed for home. I have to say that now I’m spending less time thinking about my posture as I race, which is enabling me to think about tactics. I finished the race with a great time 52:06 another personal best!