Blog #4 of 52 - Make Relaxation Part of your Training Program
You can’t run or walk your best or fastest 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon, no matter how strong you are, if you don’t relax. Relaxation means letting go; and if you want to get the most out of your exercise routine, constantly letting go of any tension you’re carrying is the best thing you can do for yourself. This is especially important for beginner runners and walkers to pay attention to.
When I’m working on the computer, I have a tendency to hold tension in my shoulders and neck and, if I’m not careful, this tends to eek its way into my running. So, I’m constantly body sensing those areas while I'm running, just to make sure there’s no tension lurking there. If I feel any restriction in my movements because of tension, I drop my arms and run with them just flopping at my sides. Once I feel the tension leaving my shoulders and neck, I slowly bring my arms back up to a 90º bend and make sure I don't engage my shoulders while my arms are swinging. It works every time.
Another place where I’m likely to feel tension is in my hamstrings, which also comes from spending too much time sitting. If I’m walking after work (which I do occasionally), I do some light hamstring stretches before starting out. If I’m feeling my hamstrings in the morning before running, I’ll do the same hamstring stretches after a very light warm up.
Where do you predictably hold tension? Do you have a plan for eliminating or reducing the tension you hold? Here’s a check list of areas to body sense on your next run. See if you can identify any of these body areas as being possible culprits. In your upper body this includes your neck, shoulders, arms and hands. In your lower body it could be your hips, hamstrings, glutes, quads, calves, ankles and toes.
Your main goal is to relax your moving parts as much as possible so that the working parts are met with little or no resistance.
The same holds true when you’re “moving” through life. When it comes to business, community or family life, it’s also good to know when you’re holding tension, whether it’s physical, emotional or mental. I always try to take some time to recognize and acknowledge when I’m feeling tense. One way I know that something is up is when I feel a sense of awkwardness with my expression. Or, those times when I feel a little out of sync with people around me. Many times my first response to these feelings is to just take a deep breath and feel my center. Other times my response could be nothing more than being honest in the moment and voicing my discomfort. I’ll try whatever works to get the flow of energy moving again.
Make the effort to watch how tension affects the flow between yourself and others, and try to sense if it’s creating a block to your flow. Body sensing is the key to discovering where your tension is and what you can do to release it. I’m sure this planet would be a better place if we were all a bit more relaxed.
Learn more about relaxation with these tools:
The ChiRunning Book (Page 56)
The ChiMarathon Book (Page 94)
The ChiWalking Book (Page 113)
Articles on our website:
- running technique,
- race training,