form & function

Mr PugRunner and I both had to run Monday morning, leading to some schedule coordination. He went out first, and I got the second position. This meant I didn’t get to venture out until the sun was up (6:50ish), but on the plus side, so was the Supermoon.

I was lucky that it wasn’t super hot and the sky was still a little overcast so I wasn’t hammered by the beating sun. However, it was still hot, so I decided to pay less attention to my speed (ironic, considering the name of Monday’s game was “speedwork”) and more attention to my form.

I figured I could still be productive, even if I wasn’t nailing my pace.

Form is very important to be running. Good form makes you faster, and stronger. It keeps you from getting injured. It’s a good thing.

After my five minute warmup, I paid attention to two things: my arm position and my foot strikes.

I cross my arms over my body, sometimes. It’s inefficient and can throw one’s alignment out of whack (“out of whack” is totally a technical term).  On Monday, I focused on keeping my arms parallel to the rest of my body. It was tough. I could definitely feel the difference, as well as tension in my shoulders and across my back as I tried to get used to the new position. Bad habits die hard. I imagine the strained feeling will go away as I get used to doing it the right way

On to the foot strikes. I’ve been reading a lot about heel-strikes lately, but I never really considered what my own feet were doing. As far I’ve been concerned, as long as one foot lands ahead of the other in a reasonably brisk manner, and I complete the distance I set out to attain, I’m golden. I was pleased to see that I seem to have a mid-foot-strike, which seems to be desirable (and is also perfectly comfortable for me).

However, when I transition into speed and tempo runs, I find myself heel-striking. I’m not really sure why I do it, but I do seem to run faster this way. It’s something that isn’t necessarily causing me any issues, but I’m going to keep an eye on it so I can try to move away from my heel and back the middle of my foot.

I do know that running has done amazing things for my posture and my core. I sit and stand straighter and I use my midsection to support myself to keep from hunching or slouching (both while running and not). I can only imagine that correcting my arms and my feet, when necessary, will lead to good things.

And my little experiment was pretty successful. I completed 3.45 miles in the 37 minutes (5:00 warm up, 10:00 steady run, 7:00 tempo run, 10:00 steady run, 5:00 cool down), with negative splits for the running portion. Not too shabby.

How careful are you about your form? Does it matter to you to be as efficient as possible or are do you just run without paying it much mind?

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25 Responses to form & function

  1. Matilda says:

    I pay attention but I could pay better attention. I find when I do tempo runs, I need to keep it in check, when I do my long slow distance then I tend to slack off a bit and just go run.
    Matilda recently posted…Shoe Follow UpMy Profile

  2. That’s so wise to focus on your form!
    I used to run with what my brother called dinosaur arms haha.
    He has trained with professional coaches and is really knowledgeable about form. With him watching me and correcting my t-rex arms it absolutely transformed my running for the best!
    If you have anyone who knows about form and you can ask them to run with you and watch you it helps so, so much!

    Good Luck!
    Anne @ CandyCrazedrun.wordpress.com recently posted…How Do You Know?My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      Ok. I am cracking up at T-rex arms. That’s hysterical. That’s a great idea to have someone watch me to see what I’m doing wrong (I’m sure almost everything). I’ll have to check around to see if anyone can (or wants to) monitor me.

  3. DragonLady says:

    I’m very conscious of my form when I run. How my stride is too short for my long legs. How I barely clear the ground because I minimally pick my feet up (part of the short stride). Yeah, conscious of how bad my form is. 😉 I noticed the difference over the weekend running the trail which forced me to pick my feet up more than normal. I sprint on the balls (there’s just no making that sound good – lol), but otherwise it’s a mid to heel strike depending on my level of fatigue. The more tired I am, the less I pick my feet up.
    DragonLady recently posted…Maniacal Monday #18My Profile

  4. Jen says:

    I try to pay attention to form especially as I get tired. It gets tough though when I am getting lost in conversation or the world around to focus on form. IT helps to check in every so often.
    Jen recently posted…Words of WisdomMy Profile

  5. Way to go! I pay attention to my form when I feel something start to hurting. And usually I manage to figure out how to fix myself so it stops. Neat trick lol.

    Do you ever feel like your arms get tired when you’re running? Sometimes I just want to rest them, which seems really weird seeing as how they’re not doing that much!
    Ari @ The Pace of it All recently posted…Not easier, but better…My Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      YES! There are days when my arms feel like cement. It’s super annoying because I don’t have extra energy or brain power to spend on dealing with my upper body. I prefer to focus below the belt. It’s a rare nuisance though, thankfully. I’ll have to start keeping track of circumstances around when it happens to see if I can can establish a pattern.

  6. Great idea to focus on form! I too am a mid-foot striker, but I find that when I start to get really tired like after mile 10, I start heel striking…something that I will have to work on during marathon training.
    Beth @ Read Hard Run Harder recently posted…Marathon Training Begins…Dun Duh Duh!My Profile

  7. This reminds me that I need to pay attention to this more. I tend to strike on the front of my foot, and I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. I also tend to keep my head down and bend forward when I’m struggling, which I need to work on. Good reminder!

  8. Lora says:

    I try to be very conscious of my form–but I think that is due to my yoga and dance background. I am naturally a mid-foot striker and only heel-strike when I get tired. (AKA when I get lazy!) I think form does very from person-to-person, but the general basics of good alignment can only help you run further and faster!:D
    Lora recently posted…Giveaway: Yogavibes.com and the #inversionaday challenge!My Profile

  9. Kelsey says:

    New to your blog from Women’s Running!! I’m totally a heel striker no matter how hard I try not to be. People have said it is a sure fire way to get injured but so far it works for me! Nice pic of the super moon too….it sure was gorgeous!!

  10. Pretty sure my form always needs work. 🙂 I heel-strike more when I’m tired (and going downhill, of course), and my shoulders tense up, which makes my arms pull up too much. That’s a good idea to focus on one or two aspects of your form at a time. That’s interesting (and awesome) that running has helped your posture!! I never felt like anything helped me with that until I started doing yoga.
    Kim @ healthy nest recently posted…ChiRunningMy Profile

    • runswithpugs says:

      I was very careful, when I started, to try to stand tall so I wasn’t leaning forward and using my upper body to lead. I’ve always had decent posture and center of balance, but paying attention to those things has really helped.
      runswithpugs recently posted…form & functionMy Profile

  11. Darlene says:

    I drag my heels (at least when I get tired). I also clench my fists. I do try to pay attention to form but in the end, I just want to get across that finish line.
    Darlene recently posted…Getting a FaceliftMy Profile

  12. I am still trying to figure out the best running form for me. With time I like to tell myself. Great run today BTW.
    Caroline Thomas recently posted…MARINE CORPS MARATHON TRAINING GROUP #mcm #marinecorpsmarathonMy Profile

  13. I’m not a big runner but when I do it, I don’t think I have much form. I am just trying to get it over with! LOL
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Weekly Wednesday Workout: SupermansMy Profile

  14. Good for you for making your form a priority. For too many years I didn’t think about it because nothing hurt… These days I focus on form a lot, especially when I’m tired on the later part of my longer runs. When I realize my form is slipping (I tend to let my core relax and I slouch down in my pelvic girdle), I focus on pulling myself back up and tightening my core. My back instantly feels better!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs… recently posted…Top Ten Reasons Not to Ask a Runner How Their Long Run WentMy Profile

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