I’ll run, but I’m not a “runner”.
I’ve done a handful of 5 and 10km runs and two half marathons — never placing anywhere of note, but finishing in a reasonable time.
It had been about four years since I was running with any regularity, but joining a virtual run group happens to be one of the hobbies I’ve picked up (read: was pressured into) during this pandemic.
While I have been able to run up to 9kms (so far), it hadn’t been the most comfortable. My knees were sore and the lowest point of my quads were in great discomfort the day after a run.
I originally pinned these ailments on needing new shoes, but while telling (complaining to) my good friend, Morgan — who I would describe as a runner — about my issues, she had a few other suggestions for me.
“People think they should just be able to run, but it’s not like anyone goes into a cross fit gym thinking they can just do a clean and snatch.”
After asking where I was sore, she told me to check the bottom of my shoes, looking for where they were most worn. Morgan explained that the shoe tread can reveal where your problem lies. My shoes were more worn on the inside of the heel.
“Worn on the inside gait means you’re probably tacking more to the centre line of your body.”
In more simple terms: it means that I’m not engaging my abductors and outer-glutei.
So what can I do to remedy this?
When not running
- Focus on more glute-activation during workouts (hip-bridges, squats, lunges, deadlifts, etc.)
- Walk around with a booty band. It may feel silly, but it will force the outer thighs to work more constantly on a regular basis
- Start with a dynamic glute warm up
- Slow down. Bring focus to how feet are hitting and leaving the ground. “Try to make it more like how your body comes in and out of a squat.”
- Shorten your distances. As they say: crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run, run short and slow before you run far and fast.
Just as I would tell someone who is squatting with weights, but incorrectly, to drop the weight and go back to basic form before adding in, I’ve had to switch my mindset. While my runs are taking longer, these small changes have helped me to almost completely relieve the pain in my knees (and save a couple hundred dollars in new shoes).
A few other tips from Morgan for in good running form
- Knees under hips. “A lot of people over-stride, but your foot should be landing under your hip.”
- Take smaller steps: “You don’t want your foot landing way in front of your hip line. You don’t want to be reaching. Think of spin — if you want to go faster you don’t pedal further.” Focus more on a push off the ground rather than pulling forward when you land.
- Don’t run straight up and down: “This can cause lower back pain. The stronger your core, the better you’re going to run. It should feel like you’re leaning into your run — your momentum is going to keep you upright.”
- Arms: “Don’t let your hands cross in front of you — point your arms in the direction you’re going, so it’s kind of like a swing elbows inward with fingers forward.”
- Breathing: “For a short run, you can breathe in and out of your mouth, but long term it will cause cramps or stitches. Try a three or four count in through the nose, three count out through the mouth. It’s one of the hardest things to learn when you first start running — fast body; slow breathing.”
- Carb-loading: “It’s more than just about the night before and it’s usually for longer runs. Leave it to the professionals.” (But I still swear by a little bit of sugar before a run, no matter the length, for that glycogen spike)
- Stretch: Use a foam roller and/or try poses such as pigeon
Morgan’s certs & qualifications
Morgan is an American-born girl who has made her life in Australia. She has been running for 20 years and has several certifications including:
Certifications 3 + 4 (Australian levels for group exercise classes and personal training)
You can find Morgan on instagram and if you have any questions, ask her! She’s always keen to talk all things exercise and fitness.