Remember how your mother harped on you to sit/stand up straight? She had a point, so stop your slouching, mister! Bad posture is the number one reason why running sucks for you. Not that running with correct posture doesn't suck, but it sucks substantially less. Let's get back to what your mom said:
Stand up straight!
For those of you without military/marching band experience, here's what that entails. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips. Most people run/walk/stand around looking stupid with their shoulders hunched forward. This does two things that are bad for runners. First, it moves your center of gravity forward, forcing your legs to work harder to keep you from falling over on your face. The second and more critical effect is lung compression. More weight is applied to your diaphragm which makes breathing more difficult, and anyone who's ever run more than a few feet can tell you the importance of breathing (more on that later).
So roll your fucking shoulders back, asshole, and keep 'em there. Stick out your chest like you have a reason to be proud. Do you have trouble maintaining this stance? That's because you're a spineless little shit. Aside from forcing yourself to maintain this position, here are some ways you can remedy the situation. Trouble keeping your shoulders back? Christ, you're worthless. Row, row, row your boat.
Now that you're all standing at attention, let's focus on your hands. Are they on your hips? No? Then put 'em there, faggot. I'm guessing your elbows are now pointing to either side of you. This is wrong. Pull'em in until they're pointing in the same direction as your bulbous ass. Difficult? Row some more, pussy. For the rest of you, take note of this position as all correct motion above the waist will pass through this point regularly. We'll even give it a name. I call it, "standing at attention."
Now swing your arms like you would if you were running. Your hands should not go back further than your hips. In fact, I doubt you'll be able to bring them further back provided your elbows are still pointing in the right direction. They are, aren't they? "But LilDebbie, if I swing my arm forward, won't my elbow be pointing at the ground?" Yes, yes it will, which brings my to my next point.
Your arms do not go swing in front of you chest. They swing alongside it.
Assuming most of you are math nerds, lets put this in language you can understand. Ten hut! That means stand at attention, scum! Alright, that's better. Note how your arms are bent roughly 90° at the elbow. Imagine your upper and lower arms are two perpendicular vectors. You shouldn't have to imagine it because they are. Now can anyone tell me what geometric figure two perpendicular vectors describe? That's right, a plane. What's so special about this plane? Nothing, except you are to limit the motion of your arms to it. For extra credit, can you tell me what spatial relationship the two planes described by your arms share? That's right, they're parallel to one another.
The wrong way to swing your arms while running is to allow them to cross in front of your chest, i.e. allow the two planes to become non-parallel. What this does is cause your torso to twist back and forth as you run. Not only does this waste energy, it also causes those piercing side aches that prevent you from making it to the finish line. Too difficult? Do some push ups, you lazy sack of shit.
You may not have the necessary room around your computer to try this while you read, so jot down some notes to take with you outside. As your shoulders are to your waist, so too with your knees to your feet. While failing to keep your knees over your feet has little short-term impact to running, the long-term consequence is fucked up knees. I'll leave discussion of the seriousness of said consequence to those of you who already fucked what is arguably the most imporant pair of joints in your body. The clever among you have already realized two things:
The first realization will merely help you appreciate the symmetry to proper running. The second is only a problem if you have weak hips. In that case I recommend more salsa dancing.
- Your legs will move along parallel planes similar to your arms.
- Your center of gravity will perpetually be over your balls/cunt instead of your feet.
As you run, your feet will push you forward until they no longer connect with the ground. Don't dally when this happens! Bring the leg forward immediately as you will receive very little benefit from pushing air. When the leg does come forward, lead with the knee, not with your foot. Your foot will swing forward on its own.
Ankles & Feet
This is trickiest part, but absolutely vital for people who run more than a few miles a week. Bad runners bounce. Good runners flow. Bouncing is bad because it causes shin splints, which apparently suck balls (I wouldn't know). Bouncing also fucks up your joints. To avoid this, you need to step as though you're trying to squeeze all the toothpaste out of a tube using only your foot. Sorry for the crappy simile but that's how it was explained to me and I can't think of anything better. Anatomically speaking, land on your heel and roll the rest of your foot down. Once it is flat on the ground, lift the heel and transfer your weight to the ball of the foot. Your toes should be the only part of your foot touching the ground right before you lift off again. Practice this walking first until you get a feel for it.
To check if you're doing it wrong while you run, find a glass-paned building to pass by and see if your hair is bouncing in the reflection, assuming you have sufficient hair to bounce. Otherwise tie a ribbon around your head or something.
Oxygen is important. It's all the more important while engaged in tough cardiovascular exercise, so do it right, kids. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Pulling in air through the narrower aperture of your nostrils speeds it up. I'm sure there's a physical law to describe this, but I never took aerodynamics. The important thing is that the air gets deeper in your lungs, thus exposing it to a larger surface area of alveoli and thereby absorbing more O2.
While from a purely pulmonary perspective, breathing out through your nose is slightly superior to exhaling from your mouth, it also causes snot to dribble down your face. The only instance where the cost/benefit ratio favors sinus exhalation is cold weather running, as your soft tissues have an annoying tendency to freeze if they only have cold air blowing over them. Not inhaling through your mouth is doubly important in the cold as your tooth enamel doesn't receive nearly as much blood flow as the rest of you and cools much faster. Frozen teeth suck hard. Trust me on this one.
Serious runners stretch. Stupid runners don't. Stretching reduces recovery time, prevents injury, and allows for other interesting activities. You should always stretch immediately after a run. If you're trying to improve flexibility, you should also stretch a mile (1.5 kilometers) into the run. While this is in no way a comprehensive list, here are the stretches I typically do:
All stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds.
- Hamstrings - Sitting down, legs extended, reach for your toes and beyond. Repeat with one leg tucked into your groin. Repeat with opposite leg.
- Ass - Sitting with one leg extended, place the other foot on the outside of the extended knee. Leverage your arm against the raised knee and rotate torso in the opposite direction. Repeat on opposite cheek.
- Groin - Sitting with feet together, lean torso forward and push legs down with elbows.
- Quads - Standing on one foot, pull the other into your ass. For those without balance, hold on to something so you don't fall over. Repeat with opposite leg.
- Calves - Standing on a curb, bring one heel down to street-level. Repeat with opposite heel. This can also be done with the ball of your foot against a wall and the heel on the ground, but is trickier.
- Shoulders - Extend arm straight across chest. Pull it in with other arm. Repeat with opposite. Bend arm behind head and pull down at the elbow with other arm. Repeat with opposite.
Not all surfaces are created equal. Some are better to run on than others. Ideally, you should run on sand, but not everyone lives near the beach. Good surfaces to run on include grass, clay, asphalt, and anything shock absorbent. Do not run on concrete as that will only reflect the impact of your step right back into your legs, and that's a bad thing for reasons already mentioned.
In the likely event you encounter some form of gradient along your run, be prepared to adjust your gait. When running downhill, resist the urge to bomb down it as this is a great way to fuck up your ankles. You should also be wary of your center of gravity and lean back a bit until you are no longer perpendicular with the ground. Stay parallel to the direction of gravity. God made your ankles bend for a reason.
Same thing applies going uphill, but in the other direction. Lean forward (but keep those shoulders back, faggot) until you're no longer falling backwards. Also, lift your knees higher than usual so you don't kick the elevated ground in front of you, and by "higher than usual" I mean, "try to knee yourself in the tits."
Running for Endurance
People run for different reasons. People who run to become the Energizer Bunny should focus on slow-paced, long distance running. You don't need to go that fast to hit your aerobic threshold, but the longer you keep it up the better. Singing while you run will also help build your cardiovascular capacity. Consult your local Marine recruiter for charming running cadences.
Running for Speed
While there are a large variety of strength building exercises out there, most of them require joining a run club. Seeing as most of you are antisocial losers, here's a simple and effective one you can do all on your lonesome. First, find a hill, the steeper the better, measuring roughly 100 feet (30 meters) along the hypotenuse. Next, determine a roughly quarter mile (half kilometer) pancake flat route that starts and ends below the hill. Run the flat route at a leisurely pace. When you get to the hill, sprint up it as fast as you can. Once you get to the top, or 100 feet up if it keeps going, jog back down and do the quarter mile loop again. Repeat until you're about to vomit, which should happen after a dozen circuits or so.
Running for Weight Loss
Don't. Get a bike instead.
Food & Water
Proper hydration is key. If your piss isn't clear, you need to drink more water. Failure to stay properly hydrated leads to heat stroke, which I can tell you from experience sucks balls. What you probably didn't consider is eating. There are two concerns with eating and running. The first is do not eat right before you run or you will puke it up during the run. This includes shit like Gatorade, which has more sugar in it than your stomach is going to want to deal with. Watered down fitness drinks are okay, but try to limit the amount of calories you take a full hour before you run.
For those of you who run competitively, what you eat in the 24 hours leading up to the race matters. Gorge thyself on carbohydrates. Head down to the all-you-can-eat pasta buffet and shoot the shit with fellow runners trying to build up their ATP stores. Bread, bagels, matzah, and cereal are all things to be consumed in excess the night before. Avoid fatty foods as they will only take up precious space in your colon.
Following these not so simple instructions will help make you the best on Earth, the best on Lars.