How to Run 101

Hi everyone! My name is Campbell (although you are more than welcome to call me Cam), and I will be competing in the short distance triathlon at this year’s TriDu. In elementary school, I was an introverted bookworm without an athletic bone in my body. Seriously, I was that overweight asthmatic kid who dreaded gym class and would get a doctor’s note in order to opt out of track and field day. However, that all changed when I took up competitive dance at the age of 11. Dance made me realize all the benefits of staying fit and ultimately how much fun sports can be (side note: anyone who does not think that competitive dance is a sport, come talk to me). Over the years, I have discovered a love for other sports, including running and cycling, and that has led me to competing in my first-ever triathlon this year.
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Image courtesy of About.com

Not going to lie to you guys: I am a wee bit terrified for the triathlon, considering that the only distance race in which I have ever participated involved getting covered in coloured corn starch. I am also a pretty weak swimmer, and am counting on Beth and Danna to whip me into shape over the next 6 weeks. That being said, I have always wanted to complete a triathlon, and I am looking forward to training hard and crossing the finish line on March 10th. This week for my training, I am mainly focused on endurance: staying in the pool, on the bike, or on my feet for at least 30 minutes, with a few intervals thrown in here and there. Nothing too fancy, but I have to start somewhere, right?
Anyway, that’s enough about me. Onto the good stuff: some running basics.
The run, at first glance, seems to be the easiest component of the triathlon. You put one foot in front of the other, over and over again, until you reach the finish line. Simple. However, there is a lot more to running than meets the eye (or…foot?). The run is a challenging part of the race because it is the last leg, and can make or break your race time. In order to finish strong, you want to make sure that you are running to your maximum ability.
Proper Running Form:
Even though you will be tired once you start the run on race day, it is important not to sacrifice your running posture and form. The more you exercise good running form, the more natural it will feel – even after surviving an arduous bike and swim.

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Phoebe could really use some pointers on her form.
Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Look straight ahead, not down at the ground, with your head up and eyes focused on the horizon. Relaxing your shoulders while you are running will help you maintain good overall posture and promote using your optimal lung capacity. If you feel the shoulders starting to creep upwards, give them a little shake to loosen things up. Your hands should also be loose, held in an unclenched fist, and your arms should swing forward and back, not across your body, with your elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle. 
As for your stride, you want to make sure that your lower leg is not extending out further than your knee–if this is the case, your stride is too long. A common misconception is that in order to run faster, you need to take longer strides. Actually, if you are looking to increase your speed, you should take quicker short strides instead.
Finally, make sure the sound of your running is not reminiscent of Jack and the Beanstalk. Good running is springy and quiet – no pounding sounds allowed. Where your foot should strike is a topic of debate in exercise science, but most agree that your foot should hit the ground around midfoot. Striking with your heel feels natural, but tends to result in slower running. On the other hand, making contact too far forward can strain your calves and Achilles, and also increases the up and down motion which uses more energy. To push off the ground, roll forward through your forefoot and push off the balls of your feet.
Where To Run
Looking for some great outdoor running routes around campus? Check out this article by The Ubyssey or look on MapMyRun. Heading down to Spanish Banks is a personal favourite route of mine. Also, in order to keep track of your run stats, including time, distance, and elevation, I would recommend downloading RunKeeper, MapMyRun, or a similar GPS running app. This article has some more great suggestions!
Finally, if the rain is getting you down and you would rather stay indoors, I say running on a treadmill is fine too! Just make sure you keep the incline at a minimum of 3% to account for wind resistance, and vary your speed and incline frequently to imitate the conditions of the outdoors.
On that note, I am going to head out for a run. Good luck with your training, and I will talk to you all next week!

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