The Gasparilla Distance Classic is just four weeks away, and no matter which race you're planning to enter, we figured your training could use a little boost. We asked Ben Henderson, an assistant coach for the USF cross country and track teams and events coordinator at Suncoast Running in Lutz, to come up with some last-minute tips for 4you readers. We'll run one every week from now through race weekend.
It doesn't matter whether you are an Olympic champion or someone who is looking to just finish the race, good technique is something that anyone can benefit from.
There isn't necessarily one correct way to run, but there are some general characteristics you can work on if you feel your technique is lacking.
I like to tell people to start with their arms. You want your arms bent at about a 90-degree angle. You want your hands to essentially brush against your hips as they swing back and forth.
Try not to swing your arms across your body, as this will waste energy; and don't bring your hands up too high, because it can cause your shoulders to tense up.
You also can benefit from having a more mid-foot strike (as opposed to landing on your heel), as you will strike the ground with less force and it will keep your gait more neutral.
Whenever I am watching someone in a race or a workout, I usually can tell when he or she is getting ready to slow down. The person's biomechanics and basic running form become very poor. As a result of poor form, even more energy is wasted, compounding the problem.
If you find this happening during your runs, give yourself little mental cues to get your form back on track. I like to wiggle my fingers and shake my arms out as a reminder to relax. Feel free to experiment until you find what works for you.