A tall story

Introducing our latest monthly column from leading running coach Andrew Kastor

As we close out this wild, wild year, I’m reminded of how fortunate we all are to have running as an outlet for our stress and anxiety right now. Hitting the open road (or trail, or treadmill) gives us time and space to collect our thoughts, without all the noise and interference of social media and news channels. It has the unique ability to calm our minds and our bodies when we need it most.

For some of us, running requires a bit more planning than usual this time of year. You’ve got to break out your winter gear—long pants, gloves, beanies, windbreakers, warm socks, even extra traction for your shoes on icy roads—and layer up before you head out the door. But no matter where you are around the world, or what temperatures and weather conditions you’re dealing with, taking those necessary steps to prioritize your training is always, always worth it.

Don’t Put Your Goals on Hold

To be honest, I’m not a New Year’s Resolution person. I firmly believe we should be setting goals and making good, healthy choices for ourselves throughout the year.

So don’t wait until the end of the month—go ahead and set your goals for 2021 now, if you haven’t already. The AbbottWMM Global Run Club is providing fun running challenges for its members throughout the year to help guide your training and keep your motivation up so look out for new offerings in the club coming soon.  

Running tip of the month: Focus on your form

As we think about setting new goals and starting fresh in the new year, it’s a good opportunity to revisit the basics. Now’s the perfect time to look at your running form and learn how to optimize it for efficiency and injury-prevention purposes.

Before we begin, remember that we are not robots. Each one of us has a unique running style. The key is finding what works best for you – and running with it for as long as possible.

Running Mechanics 101

  1. Start every run very slowly and give yourself time for a quick form check.
  2. Run tall, as if a string was attached to the top of your head, pulling you toward the sky.
  3. Make sure your head is directly over your shoulders—not jetting forward or tilted back.
  4. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
  5. Bend your elbows by your sides, at about a 90-degree angle, no matter the pace or effort.
  6. Unclench your fists—a firm grip creates tension in your whole upper body and wastes energy. Your hands should be loose and relaxed instead.
  7. Pump your arms, even vigorously at times. It actually helps drive your legs, especially when running uphill. The more you practice this in training, the bigger the impact it will have in your races.
  8. Run with a quick stride, or a cadence of about 170 to 180 steps per minute. While this rate can vary per person, aiming for a faster turnover, in general, will make you more efficient and can help reduce impact forces, thus lowering your risk of injury.