Your journey to perfect run form is based on three skills:
Listening to Your Body,
Understanding the Feedback and
Adjusting Your Form.
The way you develop these skills is through focused practice. The journey starts with understanding the learning process.
No matter what area of life, the learning process goes through these stages of development:
Also known as:
For each of the skills listed in this blog series, your development is somewhere along that scale of learning. The first step, if it's new, is becoming aware. Then it's actively developing and practicing that skill. Think of a baby learning to use their limbs. It takes effort and active focus to develop them. You can’t highly refine your fingers without refining your arms. The more you practice the better you become.
Practice Whenever You Can
This doesn’t mean each skill needs 10,000 hrs to improve your form. I find with any skill even 5-10 hours can make a huge difference. Also a lot of these skills are complimentary. Meaning that when you practice one, it's also helping to develop the other. Think of engaging your core. You may be focusing on your lower abs one run but you’ll soon gain the awareness to consciously engage the lower back, glutes and inner thighs with good balance at the same time.
You can also practice these in other areas of your life. When you’re walking you can practice engaging your core. Core stability isn’t unique to running, it provides stability for your body in general, so whether you’re walking, doing yoga or working out, you can practice engaging the four aspects of your core and help to refine and become in tune with them.
Listening to Your Body Skill
Learning progression also applies to all skills. The skill listening to your body isn’t just for running; it is a transferable skill that helps you get feedback and develop in other areas of your life as well. So when you’re practicing being aware of your stride or glutes. Your listening skill will improve and apply to both. Having this awareness can then apply when you’re working out or lifting objects in your personal life.
Just like juggling, it’s harder with more balls in the air, so take 1-2 aspects and focus on it for the run. If you’re struggling with 2 just do one. Some skills are going to take more energy and focus to practice. That's ok, that's part of the process of developing skills. The more you practice speaking a second language the faster you get without thinking, which means you can start multitasking more often.
Going hand and hand with trying to juggle too many balls while developing skills is overthinking. Do not overthink. What I mean by that is understand where in the learning process you are and that it takes time to get to Unconscious Competence. You will not be perfect tomorrow or on your next run. If we get upset at ourselves for trying to do something perfect the first time, we end up frustrated. When you learn to dance, you have to accept your incoordination and know that with time and effort (consistency), you’ll approach perfect, but even after hours of practice you’re still on your journey to better form. That's exactly how it’s supposed to be.
The same goes for running. Accept your unrefined run form and get curious about what's going on. Don’t beat yourself up as you’re learning. Every run is about collecting data and learning from it. Enjoy the process because there is always more and if you’re set on being perfect now, you’re just adding frustration to the new skill you’re learning.
Other ways to increase your practice is to:
Practice them while you’re walking.
Talk about them to friends.
Come out to the Van Run Club runs where you can talk about these principles.
As a quick summary here are some of the basic run principles discussed in the series:
Run Impacts - From day-to-day circumstances out of your control impact your run for better or worse. Don’t let this variance bother you.
Breathing - Listen to your breath and what it’s telling you.
Effort - Run or jog based on the amount of effort you want to exert today and know the costs for running at that level. Do you want to be exhausted at the end or end with lots of energy for the rest of the day?