In case you missed it, I wrote about 7 Ways To Improve Your Running Performance (check out Part 1 here). These were considerations to think about, especially if you were getting ready to start a running program for the first time. I have 7 more additions to the list.
1) You run as your only means of exercising
You would be correct in saying that running is an awesome workout. However, that is no excuse to avoid strength training. In order to maintain proper running form, you need to build up your glutes and hip muscles. Strengthening these areas will enable you to prevent injury and run more efficiently. Some studies even state that strengthening will also help you to build up your running endurance.
2) You only warm up with static stretching
In a previous post, I discussed the two main types of stretching. Dynamic stretching is when you use movement to activate the muscles, whereas static stretching is when you stand in place. It is critical to emphasize that these two types of stretching are not interchangeable. Before you start your run, you should be using a dynamic warm-up such as high knees, butt kicks, and walking lunges. After your run, you want to cool down with static stretches. Try to resist the urge following your run to plop down in your recliner without stretching, as this generally leads to feelings of stiffness.
3) You tend to lean too far forward
This is especially prevalent with those of you who have desk jobs and are used to sitting most of the day at work. This usually leads to tight hip flexors, which will cause you to lean forward as you run. In order to combat this, make sure you incorporate hip flexor stretches into your dynamic warm-up. This will help to activate the glutes in the back as well as open up the front of your hips.
4) Your knees touch when you run
This is most often seen in female runners as a result of glute and quadriceps weakness. As they run and land with each step, their knees will deviate toward the middle of their body, often knocking or touching together. Due to lack of glute and quad stabilization, the upper leg (femur) rotates inwards, causing the knees to collapse. If left unaddressed, this will most certainly lead to problems with the knee, such as Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB) or Patellofemoral (PF) dysfunction.
5) You drink too much water before you run
There’s a fine line here…if you drink too much water, you’ll feel bloated. However, on the flip side, if you don’t drink enough water you’ll run the risk of being dehydrated, which can cause you to feel lightheaded. What to do, what to do…so, is it necessary to carry a water bottle with you? Unless it is a very hot day say, over 80 degrees, you’re probably fine with not taking water with you. And as for rehydrating…a general rule of thumb is to drink 16 ounces of water for every pound you lose while running.
6) You dwell on how heavy your legs feel
If you’re thinking about how hard each step is, you will most likely fatigue quicker. If you’re fairly new to running, it’s not a bad idea to distract yourself so you won’t focus on how tired you’re feeling. This means to crank up your iPod or run with a friend. If you’re running on a treadmill, watch something on TV. These are all ways to take your mind off how heavy your legs feel and to keep you from giving up.
7) You think to yourself “Am I really cut out for running?”
If you even remotely label yourself as a “non-runner,” you run the risk of not sticking it out. Think positive thoughts, like “remember to breathe correctly” or “keep pushing on.” There was one study that determined that positive self-talk enhanced endurance performance. While this particular study looked at cyclists (and found that cyclists who practiced self-talk pedaled a lot farther and noted that it felt easier than those who didn’t), it could potentially have the same effect on runners as well.
So there you have it…7 additional ways that you could be sabotaging yourself from enjoying your new found love of running. And as always, if you or someone you know is having pain with running, don’t wait to take action. Call my office at once at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation to see how Physical Therapy can help. Don’t delay–schedule now!