I was a High School Sophomore when I decided to try out for the Cross Country Team back home in small-town Indiana when I learned how out of whack my walking and running was.
My Coach (I couldn't tell you his name. We only called him Chief) helped change my fitness outlook. I never paid attention to how I ran, I naturally had great speed, but I learned a lot more that year. I learned endurance and how to be even faster.
I learned how to breathe and not run out of breath or gasp for air. I could sprint through meets with ease. Here are a few tips, they may seem small, but they make a huge difference.
- When running, swing your arms, focus on the backswing driving your elbows back, and the front swing will come naturally. This will help to set your leg speed and pace. It's a natural reaction with your body for arms and legs to work together when walking or running.
- Don't lift your shoulders. Let them naturally hang loose and low; it will allow you to take in more oxygen, making breathing easier. It also slows your pace.
- Don't run with clenched fists. This only builds muscle tension all over your body and slows you; keep your hands loose (like Bruce).
- Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle when running.
- Keep your head down. It's easier to breathe when air isn't hitting you directly in the nose and mouth while you try to breathe.
- Don't slouch when you run or walk.
- Avoid excessive swing in your arms, and keep your arms close to your body.
Not swinging your arms when you run will not only slow you but can also lead to injury. Even when you are jogging, be sure to swing your arms. It will increase your upper body workout and allow you to flow. And most important, breathe... Breath in... Breathe out... slowly... Do not gulp the air. Use the air.
If you do not breathe correctly, you do not move correctly. Try this and see how it improves your running and walking and your overall health. This is what Chief taught us, and I went from running 3.5 miles in 22 minutes, and by the end of the year, I was running a 17:30. And I actually went from the 22 to 18:30 in less than 2 weeks.
We almost went to the Indiana State Championships that year. Have a friend watch your running technique and use the feedback to improve.