Lean Into It

It wouldn’t seem that there’s much to say on running form. You just run, right? Kids know how to run. People who walk into caves that house hungry bears know how to run. You just put your petal to the metal (or your rubber to the dirt), right?

Right, kind of. You also need to care about how you’re putting your rubber to the dirt, especially if you want to avoid injury.

There are 4 areas of running form to pay attention to.

1) Posture

Keep your head up and your back strong. Do some core exercises. A runner’s strength comes from their core as well as from their legs.

2) Foot striking

There are generally 3 types of striking, heel, midfoot, and forefoot. Heel striking is what you do when you’re walking. Forefoot striking is used by sprinters (and people running from bears). Runners tend to use either heel striking or midfoot striking when they run. Midfoot striking, however, has been shown to be the type of striking least prone to create injuries. It’s the striking I use and it’s what got me into running in the first place. (more on striking later….)

3) Cadence

You want to be light, but not bouncing. Either pounding the pavement or bouncing along it will cause you to expend much more energy than you need. This isn’t so much of a problem if you’re going out for a 3 mile run, but if your cadence is suffering, you will be too after a 12 mile run.

4) Lean

You want to lean into your run, but don’t bend into it. Lean from the ankles, not the waist. Think of yourself as a board and your ankles as the hinge, pushing you forward.

I got to thinking about leaning the other day. I was running leaned back because I was tired. However, leaning back only made the run harder. When I leaned forward and really engaged in the run, the run got easier.

Sometimes I think pain can be like that.

We typically shy away from pain. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anyone who wakes up in the morning and says, “Yeehaw, I really hope today is a painful day!” (Then again, I don’t know many people who say “yeehaw”….)

We all have our defense mechanisms. We put up walls. We retreat, whether in time and space or into our own minds. We get aggressive and angry. However we cope, we often are trying to put distance between us and the thing causing the pain.

Sometimes, however, we have to lean into the painful things of life. It must be felt, raw and hard. It must leave our eyes red and our noses runny. We must plump the depths of the painful moment so that we may better understand it and ourselves, so that we may grow.

I’m not saying that pain is justified by growth and character-building. Some pain just hurts. But if you are present under it, bearing it as a burden on your shoulders, you will come out stronger. You can’t not. The sheer fact of going through that has made you a different person.

Will you let it?

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