Running Form and Relaxing your Lower Legs
It’s week 4 of marathon training and it’s not been a good week as I managed to pick up one of the many bugs which seem to be affecting everyone I know, as a result I wasn’t able to run for a week – a whole week! Running is part of my life and now that I can run injury free, it is rare that I cannot go out running so I found it frustrating to say the least. However, on the bright side, there is always something I can be doing to practise my running form.
This week’s goal in the Beginner Marathon Training Program form phase was Passive Lower Legs. During the time I was unable to run, I was able to practice some of this week’s form focuses when out walking. Limp lower legs, relaxing everything below the knee: calves, shins, ankles, feet and toes; the slow motion walking exercise and circular feet amongst others.
After a week off, my body told me it may be OK to go running so I decided to head out on a 45 minute run. I took it very easy not wishing to overdo it and find myself not being able to run again for a while. Two days later I felt good enough to do the scheduled long run of 90 minutes. I had missed the previous two long runs due to travelling and illness but that’s fine at this stage in the plan, as this is pretty much what my long run has been for a few months now. After doing the body looseners, I headed out under leaden skies, within minutes I was running in a downpour which persisted for the duration of the run. I had to remind myself that it was very early in the morning and not the middle of the night, as the sky got darker and darker! I like running in the rain though, there is something life-affirming about it.
As a ChiRunner, I want to use my legs as little as possible and let gravity do the work. I am always aiming to expend the least amount of effort and become more efficient, a must for long distance running. The passive lower leg focuses, are all about learning to relax my legs as much as possible, after all, they are only momentarily there to support me. Limp lower legs so I don’t overuse any muscles in my lower legs; my feet moving in a circular motion keeping up with my forward fall and landing midfoot; letting my hip swing back with my leg to reduce impact and minimize shock to my legs are some of the lower body focuses.
I was wearing a heart rate monitor and my heart rate was naturally a little elevated having been ill. As I alternated through the form focuses for this run, the two that helped me most to bring my heart rate down were keeping my posture aligned and letting my heels up. The latter being one of the more difficult for me when I first started ChiRunning three and a half years ago. Complacency is the enemy of the practitioner, continuously strive to improve your running form; there will always be work to do.
Certified ChiRunning Instructor