For many recreational runners, small changes can add up to big things when it comes to improving as a runner.
Each summer chasing my shadow helps me work on my form.
When you are in a gym lifting weights in front of a mirror, ever notice how easy it is to spot that your form could use some work? Ditto with taking a yoga or Pilates class. That pose you thought you were really going deep in to? Yeah, not so much….
A mirror helps you in the same way your shadow can. No really, it does and here is how!
Next time you are out running and your shadow is in front of you, take that time to analyze and work on your form.
Are you standing tall? Do you shoulders look slumped over? Roll them back and release the tension.
Are you standing tall now? Check to see if your shoulders look like they are wide enough. As we age, and this is especially apparent in women, the muscles of the chest tighten for various reasons, pulling our shoulders forward. Focus on pulling your shoulder blades together in the back and slightly pushing your chest out. Depending on how hard this feels, you can determine if stretching out those muscles is something you need to do on a weekly or daily basis. (Tip: I stand in a doorway, put my arms on either side of the door and walk forward slightly to stretch out my chest.)
Related: Mental Tricks For Long Runs
Standing tall may feel strange at first—a little like you are walking/running sticking your chest out. Eventually you will find that as your posture improves you feel better in everyday life, not just while running.
Next up—check your arms. Are you carrying them too high? Are you wasting energy swinging them across your body?
If you swing your arms dramatically across your body with every stride, think about your body as a machine. You want your legs and arms to move forward in the same type of motion. If you really struggle with how far your arms swing across your body, try this little trick. Open your hands and point them a little outside of your body. Because of your natural propensity to swing them in, you may just almost get them swinging in a forward motion.
Check your head. Are you bobbing it back and forth? Guess what? That is wasting energy too.
You can repeatedly check your form on the run. Does your form look good in the first couple of miles, but break down in the later stages of a run? Do you slump over after 10 miles? Maybe core work is something you need to consider as an integral part of your training this summer.
Chasing your shadow is something you can do on all your different runs— long runs, easy runs, tempo runs and fartleks. Analyze how your form is different on various types of runs or distances. Write down which runs your form starts to break down on and take note of where you can make small improvements.
Now go out and chase your shadow!