I started running in grade 1, competing in the compulsory 50m race in my Primary school where the parents stood at the finish line and catch you as you finish. My parents were there every single year, and it soon became the highlight of my year, the 50 and 80m race, and don’t get me wrong I was not the fastest! I don’t really remember but I probably got last place but that didn’t matter, getting picked up and swung through the air was the highlight for me. I was just running with one goal in mind, to get in their arms. I think I was the only child in grade 7 who still had their parents there to catch them. I really didn’t care what the other kids thought! Little did my parents know how important that was to me back then. And with their busy work schedules I truly appreciate that they were there without failure every single year. It’s one of my best memories.
I’ve competed in all distances imaginable throughout high school, 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, relay and cross country. Running and running and running. I always say that in high school, the older I got the better I was doing, but honestly I was not getting any better, the other girls just staring developing, getting curves, slowing down and having interest in other things, and I was an extreme late developer, I just stayed light and when I finally started growing, my legs were the first things to grow, I look very lanky for a long time.
Fast forward a few years and I was coaching cross country, and now a few years later I’m still running in my free time, I’ve trained multiple marathon runners inside the gym and I’ve competed in a 24km “obstacle course” run earlier this year and I’m currently training for a half marathon in December.
I am what some people may call a “natural runner”, when I’m running it feels like this is what my body was made to do, no one had to teach me how to run, I just did it, comparing to my boyfriend, who is a really good swimmer, swimming does not come naturally to me, and running doesn’t come naturally to him. (no offence babe! haha)
So every person can run… and fast if they need to. But only a few people run with the right technique. Outdoor running seems like a very easy sport, you put on your shoes and start running. But after the first 100m you already start getting a stitch and can hardly breathe anymore and you get frustrated and give up, and then reality hits you, that like in any other sport, you first need to learn some techniques before your start running long distances.
Your running mechanics are determined by the strength and flexibility of certain muscles and how your body is built. Here are a few basics to help you maintain proper running form on any terrain.
- Maintain a short, quick stride. Do not try to lengthen your stride; avoid reaching forward with your foot, which can lead to over striding and will set you up for injury.
- Keep your knee in line. Make sure your foot strikes under your knee, not in front of it, which can lead to injury. This is especially important when running downhill.
- Push up and off. Focus on pushing up and off the ground behind you.
- Watch your elbows.Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees or less.
- Relax your hands. Keep hands loose and below your chest. Make sure your hands don’t cross your midline and your hands don’t punch forward, both of which can throw off your gait.
- Work your core. When starting a running program, it is also a great time to start working on your core strength, particularly your gluteus and abdominal muscles. A strong core makes it easier to stay upright—even when you’re tired—and avoid leaning too far forward from your hip.
Here are some special considerations to make when you’re climbing a hill or making a descent:
- Keep your head and chest up
- Look straight ahead
- Keep your shoulders back
- Push up and off the hill, springing from your toes
- Don’t bend at the waist and hunch over
- Keep your hands and fists loose
- Keep your torso upright
- Look straight ahead
- Step softly; don’t let your feet slap the pavement
And remember, no single running “method” will make you faster or keep you from getting hurt. To ensure that, follow these basic training principles:
- Gradually increase your mileage and the amount of time you spend on your feet.
- Recover right. Give yourself plenty of time to recover any time you add distance or speed to your workouts.
- Wear good shoes.Wear a pair that offers the support and fit that your feet need. Go to a store that specialises in running shoes have your feet measured and have someone evaluate you as you run so you can find the right pair for you.
- Introduce any changes gradually. If you do change your form, cut back the time you spend working out and the distance you cover to you give your body a chance to adjust.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope at least one of these tips can help someone!
Do any of you have any good memories or stories from competing in athletics as a child?