Do you tighten up when you run?

How many of you find that when you are running for a while, you begin to lose your form? Your shoulders and neck begin to tighten up, you begin to arch your lower back, and all your muscles are straining, trying to fight fatigue that seems to be slowing you down. I knew this feeling well, especially when I hit 300 meters in a 400 meter sprint. In most races, there is a term runners use called “the wall.” In the 400, the wall usually happens around 300 meters, but depending on the runner, they can hit the wall at various points in the race. In other sports, this invisible wall sometimes happens at the later stages of the game. Teams sometimes run “4th quarter” sprints at the end of practice in an attempt to combat this ugly aspect of the game or race.

But what really is the cause of this tightness and fatigue? Is it simply a lack of endurance? Why can some people seem to just run without losing their form while others can go from a dead sprint to nearly collapsing in a matter of seconds? The question we all should be asking is how do we train our bodies to overcome this sudden loss of power and fluidity?

The sudden loss of form known as the wall can be attributed to a muscular compensation somewhere in our bodies. An efficient stride is dependent upon all the muscles of the body working together doing their job, but because of many forms of isolated muscle training and inactive lifestyles, our muscular systems develop compensations. Certain muscles learn to compensate and take over the jobs of other weaker and underused muscles.

The result is the overall efficiency of the entire muscular system becomes very low. The muscles that have to compensate fatigue very quickly due to inefficient movement of the skeletal system, and when this happens, such as near the end of a race or in the 4th quarter, your form falls apart and you “hit the wall.” Most athletes believe that they simply need to increase their endurance, but usually all they are doing is increasing the muscular endurance of the muscles that are already compensating for the rest of their weak, undertrained muscles. This is not a very effective strategy in comparison to getting rid of the muscular compensations altogether.

Our programs are built on the 4 Laws of Training. With these 4 Laws, you can train your body to become much more efficient, and get rid of any compensation that may exist in your body that is causing you to tighten up and lose your running form. You can never teach your body to relax and run with more fluidity, like most trainers and coaches try to do, when your muscular system itself is limited by its own compensations and weaknesses. By retraining your muscular system and getting rid of muscular compensations, your running stride will naturally increase in power and fluidity.

Loren Sheets

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