you have to be able to run fast, too, to do this...
Regardless of running style, all running effort should be free flowing; instinctive; relaxed; emerging from within; bubbling forth; an expression of oneself; easy. It should look easy. Liquid running is the best running. Often when one runs one’s best time, the performance looks the most effortless, not full of the tension or strain a non-runner might expect to see when a runner is at their fastest.
Relaxation is one of the keys to this effortless way of running. By relaxation I do not mean a passive, inward looking, tuned-out escapist kind of running (dissociation); I mean a conscious, aware, intentional focusing of the mind on muscle relaxation (association).
In what running events is relaxation most important? Answer - all of them. From 100 meters to marathon, the ability to relax is the key to success.
Relaxation starts in the neck and throat. A truly relaxed runner makes noises as they exhale, like a tennis player hitting a ball, or like a shot putter at the moment of release. Exhalation is the exertion phase of the running rhythm. As you exhale, you surge forward, you can hear how relaxed you are by how relaxed your throat is. As you inhale, you might ease off the surge a little; your neck is still relaxed and you may make some noise but not as much as when exhaling.
Come on, no need to be self conscious. You have overcome your worry about how you look by going out and running regardless; you can overcome how you sound as well.
Breathing out forcefully as you exert maximum effort will always result in noise if the throat is relaxed, as it should be. By the way, you breathe in and out through both the nose and mouth, never “in through the nose, out through the mouth”.
Tension in the throat spreads to shoulders, arms, the whole torso. Relaxation in the throat relaxes the body and results in better movement of the body.
As you breathe out the body lowers slightly, the arms lower slightly. As you inhale there is a slight rise in body position and the arms rise slightly too. This natural rhythm of the body is compromised if the neck, arms and shoulders are tense.
A free flowing natural rhythmical running style should be your aim. What comes naturally is the best. But you and I have been trained and conditioned from a very young age to run tense: to stick out the chest; to pin the head still; to lock the elbows into a high bent position; to run mechanically and breathe shallowly. All that must change! I will come to these things in later articles. But it all starts with the throat.
When neck, arms and shoulders are as relaxed as possible, then full and vigorous driving from the arms is possible. Legs follow arms; power, drive, and relaxation all flow from the arms to the legs. What the arms dictate the legs copy. Your legs will move with free flowing and powerful rhythms of surging and coasting only if the arms set the pattern for that. And the arms will move freely in that way only if there is conscious active relaxation starting at the throat.
...more at "links", above. But I would add now, that as you get older you need regular stretching and massage so that you can loosen up enough to relax!
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