By now you'll have already started putting in the distances for the Perkins half marathon in October, and many of you will know about speed training etc. However, how about a few tips to make the running feel easier… as 13 miles is quite a distance.
It's important when your running to make those postural stabilisers such as your glutes, trunk muscles like latissimus dorsi, abdominal muscles etc work and contrary to popular belief it’s not all about doing more and more glute strength exercises.
The sole of the foot plays an important role in balance and pelvic stability by sending sensory information to the central nervous system allowing your body to adjust alignment instantly and unconsciously. It also promotes a strong and stable pelvis in running, activating the extensors in the knee (quadriceps) and hip (Glutes) to withstand load, creating a positive support response to the joints of the lower leg. Often the foot needs extra help to listen to the ground and react appropriately. If a foot is very rigid and has excessive muscular activity around the ankle, the sensory feedback is reduced and this is often associated with typical runner overuse injuries, knee problems achilles problems etc.
Does your foot listen?
Here is an exercise to practice at home
Listening foot- Sit on a stable chair with shoes and socks off. Feel the surface of the floor under your foot. Relax the toes. Without moving your knee or lifting your toes, slowly and smoothly move the pressure under the sole of your foot towards the outer border of the foot. This will lift your arch slightly. Then slowly move the pressure under the foot towards the inner border of the foot. This will flatten your arch slightly. This is all about keeping the foot relaxed.
Changing your centre of gravity is also important in order to activate those trunk stabilisers.
Gravity pushes down on our bodies creating buckling. However resisting gravity can be quick and easy using your central nervous system and some visual imagery. It’s not about hard work but about awareness of a new sensation.
First stand relaxed and slightly slumped, then imagine a large helium balloon on a string attached to the back of the top of your head. As helium rises imagine balloon lifting the weight of your head off your body. As this happens your shoulders relax and open up and your trunk stabilisers automatically switch on without you actively doing anything. Now go back to the slumped posture and see how different it feels then switch your balloon on again.
Now try this when you’re running, first without your balloon, then activate your balloon and listen to the difference in sound your feet make, lighter and less noisy as your supporting stabilisers have automatically been activated. And it all feels much lighter and springier!
You can read more about 'listening feet' here.