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Five Tips For Adopting a More Efficient Running Style

Perform better and prevent injuries with these tips

By Christine Blanchette

To get the most out of your running performance and to help prevent injuries, developing good running habits is the key to healthy lifelong running. If you are new to the sport, you may have inadvertently adopted a few poor running habits that can zap your energy and cause you to run slower.
 
Unfortunately, picking up poor running habits is easy to do even for the seasoned runner. A busy schedule could lead to thinking that stretching isn’t important anymore, and neither is checking the weather conditions. The ramifications, however, can be substantial. By not stretching all of your muscle groups after a run, you are setting yourself up for injury that can shelve your running for six weeks or more. And being unaware of an approaching storm or sudden change in temperature can leave you unprotected from the elements at the worst possible time.
 
Here are my top five tips for adopting a more efficient running style:

Stretching is not only a workout in itself, it’s an essential component to running that offers many benefits, such as improving your athletic performance, flexibility, while substantially lowering your risk of injury. Surprisingly, there are many runners that still don’t stretch. Stretching should be done after your workout when your muscles are warm. Hold each stretch for 60 seconds or do two sets consisting of 30 seconds for each stretch. 

Carrying your shoulders high and swinging your hands across your body are counter-productive and will deplete your energy, resulting in poor running economy. To correct this you should run relaxed with your shoulders low. Focus on pumping your arms front to back, and your feet will follow. This allows you to conserve energy, especially while running uphill. 

Give yourself at least 90 minutes to digest your food before running, otherwise you may experience muscle cramps or an upset stomach. Always carry a water bottle for longer runs, or choose a route where water is accessible along the way. 

Avoid clenching your fists, especially as you become increasingly tired. Keeping your hands relaxed will help you to maintain control without cramping or side stitches.
 
Always dress for the weather conditions – especially at night – for safety. Wear bright, neon, glow-in-the-dark garments with lights, so that you can be seen by cars, buses, bikes, etc. For colder weather, wear layers that can be peeled off, carried, and re-deployed as needed. Older shoes lose their cushioning properties and can lead to injuries such as shin splints.    

BONUS: Don’t forget to double-tie your laces to avoid losing time in a race or wasting time on a training run. Sun screen should be worn even when running on shaded run routes.
 
Hopefully by following these tips your experience will be that much more enjoyable in the long run. Pun intended!
 
www.runwithit.ca
Twitter: @christineruns
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