This week has been NUTS. Our school district has all kinds of special events going on this week, and I’ve been struggling to keep up. Also, with finals coming up, my “second job” tutoring has been super intense; I’ve been pulling double sessions with my clients, trying to get them all set with their final projects and exams. And, to add a little extra oomph, I’m fighting a cold!
That said, I’ve also been seeing my PT in addition to logging lots of miles. I’ve only ever done physical therapy once before, after I catastrophically sprained my ankle in a grocery store parking lot. This time around it is a little more chilled out, as we’re just working to correct some IT Band Syndrome and a few of the imbalances that have been throwing me off. Lately, we’ve been looking at my form more closely.
One of the best ways I’ve found to analyze my form is looking at my race photos. Analyzing my race photos from my last race- the Providence Half Marathon– was super enlightening, as it helped me notice several form issues that I totally need to work on.
Sidenote: Please excuse my terrible choice of half-marathon attire. That orange tank top has now been relegated to my yoga-class drawer, as it spent the whole 13.1 mile race riding up and needing to be pulled down OVER my flipbelt, which resulted in a totally disheveled and lumpy look overall.
1.) Not Toeing Out: (Also known as “duck feet”) This one is huge; my PT noticed it right away during some preliminary exercises a few weeks back, and I confirmed with him that I’d noticed my toes angling outwards in my race photos. See, I was all about ballet as a teenager, and was super diligent about stretching my first- position turnout. This helped me look super pretty in pointe shoes when I was 15, but over time my hips got used to that turned-out form, and it’s not great for running. Nowadays, I find my toes instinctively sliding outwards whenever I am stressed or tired, which is why it’s so pronounced in the above photo taken on a hill at mile 11 of a half marathon (that I was running just under 3-weeks after I ran the Boston Marathon). But while it is weirdly emotionally comforting for me to slip back into first position when I’m fatigued, it can cause some mechanical issues that result in injury over time. My PT has me doing exercises to stretch and strengthen my hips, and has instructed me to just be aware of this issue while I am working out so that I can correct it as much as possible.
2.) Keeping My Elbows In: While this one isn’t technically dangerous, it is inefficient. I think it’s another thing that gets worse as I get more fatigued. Whenever I see people who swing their arms like crazy, I mentally judge them. Now I know I AM SOMETIMES ONE OF THEM. Also, legit everything is wrong with my form above: I am toeing out, hunching, my elbows are out, my hands are in… Similarly…
3.) Relaxing My Arms: When I saw the above photo, I was like “Why are my hands swinging almost up to my neck?” I’d gotten my phone out to take a quick photo of the finish line, so this wasn’t a totally normal running moment, sure… but like, why are my arms crossing over my body so much? Why are they bent so much? I know I have kind of wider/muscular shoulders for a lady, but I can tell that I’m tensed up in the photo above. I need to RELAX my shoulders/arms and spare that energy for my lower body and core! I’m now actively reminding myself to keep my shoulders relaxed and my arms swinging forward and back at waist at all times- NOT all the way up to my chest. (Also, I want to reiterate that I will never wear that tank to run again!)
So, those are my three main goals for form right now. It takes a lot more brainpower to run when you’re working on your form, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end!
Now You Tell Me…
- Have you ever worked with a physical therapist?
- Runners: Any form things you’ve got on your radar?