Lose the Tension: Staying Relaxed While Running

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by VALERIE HUNT

Lose the Tension: Staying Relaxed While Running
There’s a concept in PoseMethod of running called the “do nothing” concept. In fact, we used to joke that Nike should have said “Just Do Nothing” when talking about running. Says Dr. Romanov

Gravity is a greater force than anything we can generate on our own, so we must learn to get out of the way and let gravity propel us forward while we preserve our energy for the simple act of pulling our foot from the ground.
Try to remember that the next time you take off sprinting in a WOD or race. This is why animals in the wild are generally in a resting state between chasing prey — they don’t train to run; they just let their bodies act they way nature intended.

Allowing movement means learning how to take out any extra and/or unnecessary acts as well as learning a new skill and releasing old habits.

How Do You “Relax” While Running?

The more comfortable I can be with allowing gravity to move me while I just “do nothing,” the more relaxed and comfortable running will be.
Being relaxed is another skill worth working on that will help you in all of your movements. Whether you are running all out in a WOD, racing, or just going for a tempo run, the less tension you hold the better.

But therein lies the question: How do you practice “relaxing”? By working on a few different components:

  1. increasing your perception of how it feels to run correctly using skill drills
  2. increasing mobility
  3. learning to use reflexive action of the muscles

As you develop your skills you will run faster and it will feel easier.

[I]f I only had time to practice one thing to really help me with relaxing during running, it would be to practice falling.
A proper warm-up is always a good place to start to make sure your joints are floppy before you begin your runs. How floppy? Picture yourself as a string puppet — that’s how loose you should be in order to allow movement. Even with your arms bent, your shoulders should be tension-free, and your quads should stay loose even while your knees bend. Stiff running is uncomfortable and will often lead to injury, but as with proper breathing, you want to practice how to stay loose when you are not right in the middle of a running WOD or a race.

Exercises and Drills to Practice

Developing Foot Strength

Strengthen your foundation (feet) and give the calves a break! My PT likes to tell people they have “pudding feet” — that is, they are walking around on a pile of mush and their poor calves and ankles take all of the punishment. Strength training your feet will allow your shins and calves to relax while also keeping your plantar strong. Add in some extra foot exercises twice a week by walking around barefoot on some rocks and/or grass or do towel pick-ups with your toes.

You want your forefoot to be strong so you can absorb your body weight on your foot during running.
If your calves are relaxed during your runs, they are able to do their job of providing elasticity to your run and acting as shock absorbers.

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