Hello, My name is Jeff Maynard and I’m an athlete and NASM fitness coach. I compete in men physique and I’m an avid runner. I also compete in obstacle course races and street runs throughout the year. Here are some things I have learned mostly through experience, through NASM and my own hard research that have helped me progress in running. Here are my top five running problems and the solutions to them! Enjoy!
Top Five Biggest Running Problems and How to Fix Them
Poor Running Form
Let’s start with posture and position. There is a natural stance that you have as a runner. Humans are naturally inclined to run, but over time jobs and life have become less physical, and more office based, or machines have taken over the laborious tasks. Usually, poor running technique arises from this lack of inactivity and sitting at a desk all day. This causes the thoracic spine to stiffen and a forward rounding of the shoulders and generally causes a weakened core (abs, obliques, and hip muscles). Some other causes of these postural dysfunctions are standing with your weight shifted to one side, with your hips taking more of the load. Another one would be constantly looking down at your phone and rounding your shoulders forward which I know we are all guilty of nowadays. Your body creates learned common movement patterns throughout your life. You are essentially training your body to have postural dysfunction that causes discomfort when you run. Any time one of my clients say they hate running, I can almost always attribute it back to this problem.
We need to focus on improving your posture throughout the day. Try to stand with your shoulders slightly pulled back, think about a line going from your ears to your shoulders to your hips to your ankles and practice standing up straight. Put your hands on your hips and press your hips forward a few times to loosen up the hip muscles. When you begin to run think as if someone has a rope around your hips pulling you slightly forward, so you lead with your pelvis. Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle and make sure they don’t cross over in front of the body. Avoid arching your back. Your legs should cycle in a rounded motion as if your riding a bike. Pick your heel up nice and high in the backswing.
Poor Leg Muscle Strength
Your leg muscles must be strengthened to handle the rigors of running. Make sure you’re not overtraining one muscle, like the quad, and undertraining the hamstring complex. Also, you need to strengthen the hip muscles, like the hip adductors and abductors, to help your body become stable from the side to side force created while running. Ankle stability and balance are also important aspects to consider.
Do a three-day training split.
Day one would be for strength. Squats, hamstring curls, walking lunges and hip adductor and abductor workouts.
Day two would be for explosive strength, box jumps, burpees and mountain climbers.
Day three would be focused on balance training. Single leg squats, piston squats, ice skaters and split squats to name a few.
Poor Running Pace
A lot of time you tend to run fast out the gate and then gas out a quarter mile into your run and must stop running. It’s far more beneficial to slow it down to a pace you can maintain.
Figure out your heart rate training zones. Take your age – 220 this will give you your heart rate max. take that number times .75 and .85 to determine your zone 2 cardio range that is between 75% and 85% of your max HR. Now try to run at a speed that will allow you to maintain that zone. Get a fitness watch that can track your heart rate. Run one mile and see how long it takes you while maintaining that heart rate zone. That is your current one minute/mile. It will increase over time as you improve.
Not Warming Up
You should warm up before you run to increase the blood flow to the muscles. This will help you out in the long run.
Studies by NASM have shown that static stretching before you run does not improve athletic performance and may decrease strength pre-contest. I’d recommend a dynamic warm-up like walking lunges, high knees, ankle rolls and but kicks for 3-10 mins before a run.
Poor Rest and Recovery.
A lot of runners make the mistake of trying to beat the body into submission. They push through chronic knee and hip pain. All your doing is causing more and more tightness to build up in the muscles. One muscle will become dominate and take over the action of the movement while the other muscle that acts in opposition (Agonist) will get weaker and weaker and more and more stretched till eventually, an injury will occur.
Identify witch muscles are overactive. This is usually the muscle that is on fire after you run hint, usually the Quads. Foam roll the quads and do hamstring curls to begin activating the weakened hamstring. Another common imbalance is the calf is tight. This is your body’s shock absorber while you run, and the muscles in the front of your legs (tibialis) are in the weakened position. Foam roll the calf and strengthen the tibialis by pulling your foot up (dorsiflexion) towards your knee with a small amount of resistance. A resistance band tied off to a pole works well. If this is left unchecked it leads to an injury known as shin splints. There are so many of these problems it would be a textbook if I tried to list them all but those are some of the most common ones.
Respect the body and it will love you back. Take good care of your muscles and keep working hard. Start off small and do more gradually over time and you will get better. Use these tips above to keep yourself healthy and safe in the prosses. I hope this will help you reach your goals.