The answer is a simple cliché. One step at a time.
Keeping this focused in your mind will help you achieve your running goals.
Essentially running is just standing on one leg, leaning forward and switching to the other leg. How fast you can do this and for how long determines your running performance.
But what if our machine had a wonky control mechanism? It kept losing track of what it was doing and changing how that motion worked? You would expect wear and tear and breakdowns.
Speed and endurance relies on good running form.
Losing form sets up a vicious cycle. Bad form wastes effort, you get tired, which leads to worse form and so on until collapse.
Your running form and your state of mind are intimately connected.
Want to run well, for long distances? Become sensitive to the feedback coming from your body’s interactions with the landscape. It takes a light touch. Small adjustments to keep you on track.
Your body does a lot of this automatically. More can become automatic with training. But the process still needs a governing awareness. Many issues can be alleviated on the run with small changes in movement if sensed early enough. But twinges and soreness must be especially monitored. They are often warnings that your form is off. Or it may be that you haven’t prepared sufficiently for what you are attempting.
In addition, your mind can wander into negative thinking. You can find yourself tensing up against the long road ahead, subtly telling yourself you can’t do it. You can waste precious energy fretting about the next kilometre, or the next checkpoint. This might not cause you to quit straight away. But it makes it more likely the next time you hit a low point or tough section. And in the meantime it can impact your form.
How to support good running form with present moment awareness.
1. Focus on establishing good form at the start of your run. Consciously tune in to your body from the ground up. Check that everything is in alignment and working as it should. Ideally get a good coach, chiropractor or biomechanist to help you establish what this form feels like.
2. Once you are dialled in, try to stay lightly focused on each footfall. You might want to focus on your breathing while doing this, to help hold your attention in your body. With practise, this ‘running sense’ will drop Into the background. But it should remain active enough to alert you to any change in form.
3. Run regular checks of your form and body. Every so often run a full ground up check of your body, to make sure you are in good form.
4. Are you thinking about something else? The next kilometre? The next checkpoint? The end of the race? Check in on form and bring your attention back to your body.
You’re only as good as the step you are taking. Apply presence of mind to make it a good one. If you enjoyed this article you'll love our events.