Long distance running seems to be a world away from sprinting. But if we look at the essence of running – they are one and the same. Running is running. While different distances do require different training plans, the running technique used, however, is the same. Your body’s mechanics and the work of gravity do not change based on the distance you decide to conquer.
So what are the major points of maintaining good running form for long distances?
Similarly to middle distance and short distance, first and foremost – maintain focus. Great running, after all, like excellence in golf, gymnastics or ballet is really a physical manifestation of extremely strong mental ability.
Remain completely and entirely focused. That is a practice area of its own and should be included in your regular training regimen. Do not allow your mind to wander. Many use long distances to “escape” from daily burdens and stress but the only way to maintain good form is to stay focused on your technique, especially when you’re just starting out.
Once you get into technique work more and after you’ve drilled and practiced for a while, your body will ‘memorize’ the pattern of required movement but in order to not stray at any point, maintaining focus on what you’re doing will still be necessary, especially so when running a long distance event, and, doubly so when running an ultra.
Do This Move
When running long distance, the longer the distance the more opportunities there will be for your technique to fall apart. In running, from the Pose Method point of view, there is only one actionable element that is entirely under your control – pulling (of your foot up). That is where your main focus should be. Using the mental command to pull will help you maintain necessary cadence and will help you to keep moving. If you experience pain you will also be able to adjust the technique on the go in order to eliminate the problem.
One of the most difficult obstacles will unquestionably be fatigue. As it sets in it will have an effect on your senses, on your perception. Maintaining focus on one action only – pulling – will be much simpler and easier and more effective than anything else you could attempt to do.
Pulling on time, pulling to maintain cadence will also help you to maintain short time on support. Fatigue leads runners to longer time on support which leads to increased load on entire body, knees will most likely feel it first. The action of pulling your foot up to change support accomplished by hamstrings, the workhorses of the runner, will be your ticket to finish line. No need to overload smaller muscle groups. This is where the importance of strength training gets highlighted again.
The other important thing is to stay relaxed. Not “I’m on vacation” relaxed, but not tense, not agitated, not stressed. Everything is connected so maintaining focus on technique will keep your thoughts directed at one target and it will help you to stay together and not scattered.
The effect of staying relaxed will reverberate through your entire body. Your muscles won’t tense and spasm, your mind won’t go into distress mode – all things necessary to make it to the finish line miles and miles away.
Staying focused and relaxed will help you handle the psychological and physical stresses associated with long distance.