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3 easy steps to more relaxed running form

SEP 6, 2023

Minute 1: Why and how to relax your running form

There is no shortage of double entendres for running coaches to encourage their charges to remain calm: Take a breather. Kill time. Kick back. Put your feet up. Be footloose and fancy free. When a coach tells you to emulate an elite marathoner cruising along a course, pay attention to how their gait looks calm and almost effortless. Relaxed form is key to lowering your perceived effort and increasing your efficiency. Fast running is hard work, but the pros sure make it look easy with these: “3 easy steps to more relaxed running form.” The first step is to relax your arms and shoulders, and this can be achieved by pretending you’re holding a fragile leaf, egg, or similar object in your hand. A loose fist will keep the muscles and tendons in your arms relaxed and free to swing in rhythm with your step. Speaking of rhythm, taking deep, slow breaths in sync with your steps can also keep your body relaxed. For a deep dive into breathing techniques as you run, check out Minute 2 of this recent issue. Whatever changes you try to make, it’s important to keep them gradual so your body has time to adjust. That’s one of the tips given in “Would You Like To Run Better? Relax!” The article notes that relaxed running is as much mental as it is physical, so practice letting go of strict self-imposed expectations to adopt a healthy mindset. Running quickly can feel like it requires a lot of full body strain to achieve top speed, but in time, you’ll learn how to work the muscles that are required while allowing everything else to flow naturally and relaxed.

Minute 2: These longevity-boosting activities are a blast

Just before Jimmy Buffett passed away last week, good buddy and acclaimed author and outdoorsman Tom McGuane offered him some perspective. Someone once asked McGuane what he hoped for when he died. “A surprise,” he answered. While we think Buffett passed away too early at age 76, that is actually the average life expectancy in the U.S. according to the CDC. There are no real surprises when it comes to beating the odds. Longevity advice can be quite boring, but when approached the right way, it can actually be fun: “4 Actually-Enjoyable Longevity Habits That Can Help You Stay Healthier for Longer—No Diet or Exercise Involved.” Happiness is one key component to extending your lifespan. It’s no coincidence that a lot of the world’s “blue zones,” the areas with the longest life expectancy, are islands. They’re conducive to a lifestyle that’s laid back and connected to nature, rather than being caught up in the commotion of city living. Where you live can have a major impact on your health, and so can who you’re living with. Strong social bonds and a sense of community is a common trait among centenarians, which is why the occasional visit to your local bar for happy hour can actually be a net positive for your health. The key is moderation, though, since a recent study found that on average, more than about three servings of alcohol for men and two servings for women per day increases the risk of all-cause mortality. For more on that, take a look at: “No, moderate drinking isn’t good for your health.” Ideally, finding ways to socialize and build a sense of community without alcohol will have the optimal impact on your health, so invite your friends out for an activity like hiking: “How to Get the Most Out of Fall Hiking Adventures.”

Minute 3: Why you should eat some pumpkin this fall

Autumn is just around the corner, and pumpkin is back in season. They may be scary -ooking when turned into a jack-o-lantern, but their health benefits are just the opposite: “Health Benefits Of Pumpkin.” For starters, pumpkin is rich in fiber, which can regulate your digestive process. Not only that, but also research indicates pumpkins contain alcohol-insoluble polysaccharides that act as a natural antacid, as well as support the growth of gut microbiota. Like other orange-colored veggies, pumpkins contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which support eye health to maintain sharp vision. Now that your favorite cafe has probably rolled out a pumpkin spice latte, you may be asking yourself “Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes Actually Good For You?” The majority of the time, PSLs aren't made with real pumpkin. Not only that, but they often contain added sugars and sweeteners, meaning you shouldn’t expect many health benefits from this classic fall drink. If you’re looking for ways to improve its nutritional profile, use these “5 Ways to Make Your Pumpkin Spice Latte Habit Healthier.” Looking ahead to special drinks this holiday season, we can’t resist sharing one of our favorite SNL ad spoofs of all time, this Casey Affleck gem that nails our local Boston accent and obsession with Dunks.

Minute 4: Give back with your running

Running can have a powerful impact on your own life, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Whether you’re tackling a world-renowned marathon, or participating in your local Turkey Trot, there’s usually a way to give back and support a charity with your running. To learn how to do that most effectively, take a look at this new guide: “Running for Charity: 10 Fundraising Tips and Ideas.” The first step is to pick a charity that’s right for you, and a good place to start is on the website of the existing race sponsors. You can see some options for the NYC and Chicago Marathons here. Then, set up a personal fundraising page, complete with custom graphics to drive your donations. Running for charity can make the world a better place and improve your race experience at the same time, according to this list of the “Top 10 Reasons To Run For A Charity.” It’s important to pick a charity that means something to you, rather than just using it as a way to guarantee a bib in a popular race. That way, your volunteering will be a personal motivator -- you can take pride in the fact that your efforts are going toward a cause you care about.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • It’s never too late to improve yourself, and there isn’t much better proof of that than Sue McDonald. She’s the proud owner of a whopping eight masters world records, making her one of the most accomplished athletes in the 60 to 64 age group ever. There’s no signs of slowing down, either, and Sue says she isn’t surprised that “The Fastest 60-Year-Old Woman on Earth Is Only Getting Faster.”

  • If you’re familiar with plantar fasciitis, you’ll immediately associate it with pain in your foot. That’s the location of the source of the problem, after all. But did you know that plantar fasciitis can cause additional problems to develop? That's because it can alter your stride, causing imbalances, which is why you should ask: “Can Plantar Fasciitis Cause Knee Pain?

  • We love a rapid-fire list of fitness myth debunking. There’s never any shortage of misconceptions about how we should eat or workout, so The Guardian asked a bunch of experts to weigh in on 17 common questions athletes have about their fitness. Some rules are made to be broken, so check out: “Do you really need to walk 10,000 steps a day? And 17 other fitness ‘rules’, tackled by the experts.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

As helpful as fitness trackers can be, they can reveal quite a lot of information; sometimes too much. @run4prs.coachathena knows all about it, as she’s been caught by her friends bending the truth about her runs before. The numbers don’t lie, after all, and there’s no convincing anyone you had an easy run when you were sitting in zone 4 or 5 the duration of your workout. They say honesty is the best policy, but if you want a little privacy to avoid judgmental comments, we sure don’t blame you for putting the tracker aside for some of your runs. If you can relate to the feeling, check out Coach Athena’s funny, but insightful video, and read the post description for some useful information on heart rate-based training.


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