To run effortlessly, don’t resist
Everyone is looking for that elusive perfect running form, be it running coaches or the runners themselves. What if I told you that once upon a time you, yourself, had as perfect a running form as possible?
Yes. You read that right. When as a baby, you had barely started to walk, you were in a rush to run. Even though no one was telling you how to land, what should your foot landing be, where your hands and head should be, you did it impeccably well. It probably was because you learnt it instinctively. You weren’t forced to learn.
Then life hit you. You were soon enough told to be disciplined, to sit down and be quiet. You were forced to adjust to the norms of society. You sat, albeit very unnaturally for human beings, for next few decades.
Irrespective of your gender, by the time you hit your teens or early 20s, movement, that is very fundamental to being human, was alien to you. When you tried walking fast, you didn’t know which hand needed to move when a certain leg went forwards, how should you hold your head or how to land. You forced your way through.
All this when movement is the very basis of life, of nature, of every thing around us at the most micro to macro level.
Here are the four basics you need to remember and practise daily to stop resisting and to let go so you can move effortlessly. Eventually this will help you to run at your optimum best too.
■ Stand tall like a puppet. Imagine there is a string at the top of your head that is pulling you up. Now that is an important string to think about whether you stand, run or sit. You are not forcing yourself. You are letting go by following what you are supposed to do in the first place: stand tall.
■ Imagine that you are holding something fragile in your hands; if you don’t hold it with care and lightly, it will break. This will further help you ease the tension in your shoulders and the upper back.
■ Start skipping without a rope. When you skip, you can only land softly on your feet. Now that’s how you should be running. Gently. Do not force yourself. Each time you land, be soft. You shouldn’t be hearing your footsteps, or at least be as quiet as possible. Do this for 30-60 seconds. Do this multiple times, maybe 5-10 times to start with.
■ Once your foundation is solid, you will be ready to go for a run. The first week start with a 5-minute walk, followed by 1 minute of run. Repeat this alternate walk and run four-six times. At all times, keep miling and smiling.
This is the first in an eight-part series to motivate people to take up running in the correct way.
Rajat Chauhan is sports-exercise and musculoskeletal medicine physician and race director of La Ultra-The High held in Ladakh. He has authored The Pain Handbook: A Non-Surgical Way To Managing Back, Neck And Knee Pain.