Whether you're a candidate for the Australian Defence Force or the Police, one exercise will have to become part of your weekly training routine so you can stay in shape, perform your duties better and generally be able to complete your tasks on and off the job. That one exercise is running.
Many people don't know how to run correctly, thus risking recurring injuries and giving up on their dream job. In this article, you'll find information on the most common mistakes in running form, as well as suggestions on how to correct them.
Mistake #1. Heel Striking
Heel striking is somewhat a problem due to modern footwear with high drop where your heel is significantly higher than your toes. This prevents your feet from having a great connection to the surface, thus allows you to hit the ground with your heels first without feeling a thing.
Heel striking often comes hand-in-hand with slow cadence resulting in the hips being behind the feet when trying to push off the ground. Try it. You'll realise that you won't be able to push off your foot if your hips aren't forward. Your hips must move over your feet to move forward.
If you're running with a heel strike, you'll likely experience that your calves and hip flexors are tight all the time. Even if you're not aware of how your feet hit the ground while running, pay attention to how your body feels after. If needed, find someone to record your running to help you figure out where you can improve your running form.
The minimalist running and barefoot running movements have received a great deal of attention recently. If you strike your heel when running barefoot or in minimalist shoes, it hurts. I am not suggesting you start running barefoot from now on. However, if you are in for an experiment, you can try short runs on a soft surface like grass. Your feet will immediately show you how they like to touch the ground to avoid discomfort.
Mistake #2. Poor Mobility In The Hips
Regarding running speed, stride length and stride frequency are two crucial and well-known variables determining how fast you can run. Fewer people know that mobility limitations in their hips will inhibit running speed development and make you more susceptible to injury.
While your stride and your connection to the surface happens through your feet, the stride itself begins in your hips and glutes. If you'd like to achieve better speed, focusing on the strength in your glutes and the mobility of your hips will be paramount.
Do you ever feel little niggles in your knees during or after running? You may not realise, but inbalances in your hip area could cause that too. If you'd like to ensure your hips are ready to power your running, include active mobility stretching to the warm-up before your runs and even before hitting the weight room.
Here's a little video we put together for ADF and Police applicants with a flow routine for hips and legs:
Mistake #3. Tense Upper Body
Running fast and relaxed is one of the most challenging things to teach a runner, new or experienced. When you observe others running, you might find it easier to notice what they're doing wrong with their upper body even if you cannot put it into words.
When you see a runner with a completely stiff core and upper back, you'll know their muscles are contracted way too much, which can result in shallow breathing. If oxygen transport isn't efficient during a running session, it won't only affect your performance but might trigger an injury too.
Here're the areas that you should pay attention to when running:
Mistake #4. Lack Of Tempo Control
Tempo control is crucial for developing a great sense of pacing yourself to hit consistent run times. When you train to pass the fitness tests for the ADF or the Police, you'll need to remember that there are two main running events you need to master. The beep test and the 2.4km run.
Both of them will need you to pace yourself but in different ways, so ensuring that you work on your tempo control during training will be crucial. While your runs should aim for you to hit distance and include a long run each week at a steadier pace, you can also incorporate tempo runs into your weekly schedule.
These will be shorter runs, maybe 20 minutes for you to find your tempo. It would be best if you didn't run at an all-out pace that kills you by the end of your session, but neither at a slow and steady pace you'd run during your long runs.
If your speed needs to improve to pass the beep test and make time in the 2.4km event, there are two main ways to include speed work into your training. You can add speed work into your long runs and add separate speed sessions into your weekly running schedule.
One fundamental principle is that speed follows stamina which means you want to make sure you've already built a solid base for long runs before you start adding speedwork. We would also include that if you need to fix any of the mistakes in points 1-3, then start with those to run efficiently and minimise injury risk before working on your speed.
The sedentary lifestyle has sadly got a negative impact on how humans move. If you want to make sure that you meet the running fitness requirements for your chosen job in the ADF or at the Police, start by assessing your running form, mobility, strength and balance, then start building your running stamina. If you need an expert to check your running technique and give you advice specific to your needs, then don't hesitate to claim your $0 Sign Up Fee for Online Training now and get your running on track.
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