We've all been there before. You're running along just fine, feeling good, smooth, fast. Then there's the periods of feeling 'not so good'. You're trudging, shuffling, gasping for air (or for the nearest park bench to sit down). How do you get through it? I'll share with you my go-to checklist.
Before I go into the list, when you start to feel really bad, grumpy or blah, ask yourself this: "Have I taken in enough calories, electrolytes and/or fluids? Start there. Do that first. You can come around pretty quickly.
My Top 5 Run reminders:
Yep, just breathe. Not only will it center your focus and attention away from your aching muscles, it will calm you down. I also say (to myself hopefully and not aloud), "pull yourself together, man!" :) This usually makes me chuckle.
Just controlled breathing slowly and deeply will get more oxygen to your muscles, but I found can also break up a good side-stitch cramp. Calm your breathing pattern and you'd be amazed at how different you will feel.
2. "Up tall"
This one goes back to something my college track coach said to me all the time. When the going gets tough, we tend to hunch over, looking despondent down at the ground. Throw those shoulders back and lean into it with your chest and your heart! Don't bury yourself into the pavement by looking at it. Look to where you want to go...that person just in front of you...the next mile marker...the finish.
This goes hand-in-hand with #1, but takes it a step further to make sure your hands are relaxed and your shoulders are not up in your ears. Let go of the 'death-grip' fists. Once you drop the shoulders and open up the fists, the rest of the body will follow.
4. No arm crossing
When we get tired, we tend to swing our arms across the mid-line of our body. Want to get to that finish line faster? It certainly doesn't involve throwing your energy off to the sides with your arms. Drive everything you have forward (this is related to #2 as well). I'm guilty of this because it seems every picture I see of myself running, my arms look dangerously close to crossing. And I'm actively concentrating on NOT swinging them!
Here's the catch though - please, please do not start running like Tom Cruise in movies. That 'hatchet chop' style not only looks wrong, but will certainly tire you out after the first take. At least he looks to be following my rule #2, though. :)
5. Go to the core/hips
Let's face it. Your legs are going to get tired and sore, your feet raw or blistered. But you know what? You have almost limitless energy to draw from your core. Tap into it. Again, going back to #2 & #3, if you're up tall and relaxed you can focus on driving yourself forward with your hips & core. Add to that a proper arm swing from #4 and it will become almost easy to push ahead with your core and your gut. So, dig deep my friend, you're in store for one of your best runs ever!
Thanks to Joe Patronite for the great running picture below. Almost crossing the arms, but not quite. :)