Running form

Previous posts on core strength touched on the idea that how I run is important.

This isn't the whole “moving you legs a bit faster than if you're walking” thing, it's about posture, movement, balance. What us runners *cough* call “running form”.

Annoyingly, form is mainly dictated by your physical make-up – length of bones, muscle and tendon flexibility, strength and endurance of various muscles, and how all these contract and move. I'm 29 now so can't do much about the length of my bones, but, in theory, the others can be worked on.

Looking at my running form should also help me lower the chance of being injured (the main reason I'm interested in it), stop me wasting energy as I run (not just stopping me drumming along to Foo Fighter tracks) and help iron out any imperfections that make what is already an arduous business, somewhat easier (also a bonus!).

The scientific way to do it is to video yourself whilst running and analyse that.

Although I am technically a scientist (I've got a BSc!) that's a bit namby-pamby for me. And I hate looking in a mirror, or at pictures of myself, so the idea of watching video of me getting knackered wearing shorts isn't really that high on my to do list.

Probably just behind chewing off my arm, but above going to a Take That concert.

So, instead I'm building it into my running as a way of helping pass the time. Thinking about how much my arms swing, how tense they are, how I'm leaning, relaxing my shoulders, head position, and how flat I'm running.

That last one sounds weird, but imagine you had a giant marker on your head and were running alongside a large blank piece of paper – better still, actually get a three-foot long marker, attach it to your head and run past a white wall.

If the line the marker draws on the wall is very up-and-down - oscillates (told you I'm a scientist!) - it means you're wasting energy moving up and down as you run.

Now there's gonna naturally be some vertical movement, but if you can get this line flatter, it means you're wasting less energy as your body goes up.

To run a marathon you ideally want to focus on going forward – that's where the finish line is and that's the best bit. Any energy spent moving in a different direction is wasted and believe me when I say you'll need it later on.

If you take two runners, one with good form, and one with bad form, and they reach halfway at the same time, chances are, the one with better form will finish ahead as they'll have wasted less energy getting to where they are.

For me, the main issues are keeping my back straight (so I'm not wasting energy keeping my balance) and relaxing my shoulders.

My poor form is down to my crap back, so getting the core bit stronger will mean I'll be able to run more upright, without tensing up. That'll mean I've got more energy for later on when I need it.

This isn't to say it'll make a massive difference, but it's one of a few things which, when added together, will go a long way towards helping me complete that 26.2 miles in April.