Dear Mountain Mama:
I’ve got a serious case of the running doldrums. The summer humidity makes me feel like a glazed donut no matter how early I go, and I’m barely plodding through my daily runs.
Can you help?
Dear Lacking Run-i-vation:
I’m not a great person to ask about running advice, but luckily, my friend, Thomas Minton, is.
He’s been a physical therapist focusing on the treatment of running-related and sports injuries for more than 15 years. He’s a Pose Method Certified Running Technique Specialist, a USA Track and Field Coach and Red Level Bike Fit Professional. Folks refer to him as the “running guy.”
When I asked him to teach me about proper running form, he told me to just watch my two-year-old son.
“Really?” I asked. I’ve learned a lot from my toddler – patience, noticing the small things, and the importance of naps. But I wasn’t expecting he’d show me how to run better.
“He lets his center move forward and let’s gravity do the work. His legs just catch up with him. His arms hang completely relaxed,” Thomas explained.
It turns out running is an innate skill and we’re literally born to run.
For kids, running is fun, a form of play. But something happens along the way – we watch others run with bad form. We think running is supposed to be difficult and tighten our bodies straining from effort. Most people use their arms and legs to propel them forward, which is exactly opposite of how Thomas tells me to run.
Running is all about letting go and trusting our bodies to move forward, using the most efficient movement patterns. He coaches people to relearn how to run by relaxing. Most of his clients are Type A, high-achievers who tell him, “I don’t want to think about running.”
He asks them, “What do you think about when you run?”
“I work out problems from the day, think about what’s next on my to-do list,” they respond.
“I tell my clients they could let all that go, silence all the noise in their lives when they lace up their shoes.”
The Pose method consists of drills specifically designed to focus on the elements of running. Minton teaches clients the runner’s position, often using his hands to make adjustments so that clients get muscle memory of correct body position. He shows runner’s how to fall forward, letting gravity do the work. Next he works with clients to pull their feet off the ground, transitioning to their next step.
On his own runs, he reminds his body to relax whenever he feels tension. Sometimes he’ll stop to shake out his arms or roll his shoulders. Other times he rotates his ankles to release tension.
People often have very strong emotional reactions to the POSE method because all that muscle tension holds in our emotions. When we’re feeling vulnerable or hurt, we slump, guarding our hurts against potential hurt. When we release the tension in our bodies, we also give past hurts the ability to move out of our bodies.
Minton says that when he heads out on a run, he’s completely engaged in the process of running, focusing on his body and figuring out adjustments he needs to make to run more efficiently. All of this dialing-in makes running meditative and keeps runners connected to the present moment.
To stay injury-free and tap into this higher form of running, consider consulting a Pose coach near you. For more information, check out Minton’s running website at FreeFallFitness.com.