A little run every now and then.

Posted by Rollo
5 minutes
A little run every now and then.

Spring is here, the temperatures are rising, we can train pleasantly outdoors and maybe even vary our workouts, like a little jog every now and then which never hurts. Running and its derivatives are an integral part of metcon activities and therefore part of the CrossFitter's baggage. I know that almost no one likes running but it could also be that among the causes there is the fact that you have never seriously faced the thing. As always.

So today I want to give you some very basic information on running and jogging, considering that when we talk about running we are mostly referring to jogging, which is a type of running halfway between brisk walking and actual running, characterised by a long time of contact with the ground, in which many people, perhaps due to a lack of technique, dangle around in an inelegant manner travelling at a speed of between 6 and 9 km/h. In running, speeds are typically higher and the time the feet remain in contact with the ground is very short.

How do you start?

One thing to avoid is starting to run long distances, for two fundamental reasons: the first is that if you're not used to running, you run the risk of literally bursting after a few dozen metres due to suboptimal management of your resources; the second is that injury is always just around the corner and since nobody likes having a sprained ankle, it's better to do things step by step. 

It's one thing to do the 400m you happen to do in a WOD, it's another to do a few kilometres which are the standard distances of a jogging session, so the shoes you usually use in the gym are not exactly ideal. And even less so are WOD shoes, although here we'd have to open a parenthesis on a running technique called "pose running", but since it's an advanced technique, maybe we'll talk about it another time.

A pair of shoes suited to your running style is desirable, as everyone has their own way of putting their foot on the ground and there are optimal shoe types for each of these ways. Whether you are a supinator, pronator or over-pronator, just go to a sports shop specialising in running to check your footing and get advice on the right shoe. Make a small investment and I can assure you that with the right shoe, it's a whole new experience.

Knowing you, I already know that you'll find ways to blow a couple of salaries on various gadgets like smartwatches and various unlikely accessories, but in truth the only thing you shouldn't save on is shoes. Everything else can wait.

Once you've got the right shoes it's worth getting it into your head that like anything else you need to be gradual and so even if you're super-trained to lift a thousand thousand tons of cast iron and run Fran in one minute ten, you're not going to be able to run 5 or more kilometres in the first instance, but probably not even 2 and a half. So you might start by walking a little at an increased pace for at least five minutes to warm up and then start alternating short stretches of running with others of walking. 

On when and how to do these intervals, I refer you to the many websites on the internet that explain the various ways to get from the sofa to 5km. Here's a link to the NHS website, which offers a truly 'Couch to 5km' programme for everyone. Obviously you're not Jacobs so, at least at the beginning, don't expect great results, aiming to run continuously for a few km.

As for the soundtrack, it's up to you, although running without music helps you to concentrate better on your breathing and therefore on the pace you have to keep, ultimately developing a greater awareness of what you're doing. On the other hand, if this were not the case, even great athletes would listen to music during the race and then, if you are lucky enough to be running in the woods, there is no better soundtrack than nature.

Technique matters

As always, good technique protects you from injury and makes things easier. When I talk about injuries I am referring to sprained ankles, contractions of various leg muscles but also to stiff necks or arm problems if not used correctly.

Now the usual superficialist will say: 'What's the point, you just chant'. It's true that running is a natural movement, but that doesn't mean you can't work on some technical aspects to improve it. Correct running technique can help you become more efficient, save energy, improve your pace and run longer distances, reducing the risk of injury.

  • Without going into too much detail, the key points to consider when running are:
  • Keep an upright posture and look forward
  • Hands at chest height relaxed and arms bent at 90°.
  • Open chest, shoulders straight and relaxed to encourage breathing
  • Arms attached to the body
  • Do not bounce on the ground

Come on, it's not difficult, you just have to put in a little effort. Obviously there are thousands of other details to consider, but for beginners, being able to take these into account is already a good result. The important thing is to keep your pace under control and look for the best foot support, which is not always the one you're using. 

Obviously, at the end of the session, it's a good idea to take a few minutes to catch your breath, work out and then do some specific mobility for about twenty minutes. Here again, the web is full of sites that tell you what and how to do, although for my part I stick to GoWod, which although it doesn't have any specific routines, is still extremely valid even just in the lower body programme.

Now all you have to do is put on your sunglasses, go out and enjoy a nice run, maybe in the company of others, as I have been doing for a fortnight now with the other master rowers, or up and down Hyde park and St. James park. Running is a great way to discover unfamiliar corners of your city or just see the usual ones from other angles.

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