No matter where the athlete is within the pack, every runner tires at some point. Here are some of the most common things I find myself saying as cues to tired athletes in the final intervals of a workout or the last few miles of a race. Even if you don’t have the option of having a coach with you while you train, encourage yourself with one or more of the following tips during the next hard session or race.
RELAX. A tense face leads to a tense neck and shoulders, while clenched fists can create that same tension from the bottom up. None of it helps you run fast. Take a deep breath, lower your hands, and relax your shoulders. You probably won’t have even noticed you’re tensing until you tell yourself to relax.
PICK UP YOUR FEET. We tire. We shuffle. Our feet spend more time on the ground and our strides yield less distance. Making a conscious effort to be lighter on your feet, even for 30 seconds or 1 minute, can reset your stride and bring you back to a more productive gait.
SLOW YOUR BREATHING. Shallow panting breaths leave all sorts of oxygen absorbing capability on the table. Find a slightly slower / deeper breathing rhythm that will deliver more help to your muscles each breath. As an added bonus concentrating on that rhythm can distract you for a little bit, getting you closer to the finish before you remember all the other ways this is getting tough.
ARMS NORTH AND SOUTH. When you are tiring, anything you can do to direct all available body parts toward the goal is essential. Letting your arms swing side to side or scrunch up high near your chest is at cross purposes with the fastest path to “point B”. Keep your arms swinging alongside your body at approximately 90 degrees to keep everything going in the right direction.
STAY IN CHARGE. This is less a form cue than a mental reminder, but a great one to have in your back pocket whatever the scenario. Either the situation is happening to you or you are happening to the situation. You can choose to change your pace, body movements, or tactical positioning, and you can do so depending on how your body is reacting. However, make it your choice and stay mentally locked in.
Note: This is the fourth in a month-long series of advice posts as a Strava featured coach. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along and I look forward to joining you in reading tips from future featured coaches!