You're 18 miles into the IRONMAN marathon and you lose all semblance of acceptable running form. What's next? How do you recover?
Focusing on running mechanics should be a constant in your training program. But, understand that "correct" running form is very individual, and you need to work on what is best for you. Determine your strengths and weaknesses and focus on maintaining the former while improving the latter.
It's easy for most runners to think about and execute efficient form early in a workout or race--but when you introduce fatigue to the equation, things get significantly more difficult. Your posture slumps, your cadence slows, perceived exertion increases and (most importantly) injury incidence increases.
So, the next time you begin to break down mid-race, consider these simple tips to help hold your form under fatigue.
First, complete a body inventory:
Eyes—Are they looking ahead?
Face—Is your jaw relaxed?
Shoulders—Are they away from your ears?
Arms—Is the swing movement going forward?
Hands—Are they unclenched?
Core—Is it engaged?
Glutes—Are they activated?
Once your body is in order, address problems in your mechanics:
Quicken your cadence.
Reduce pounding by focusing on a quieter foot strike.
Run tall and elongate the spine.
Lean forward from the ankles, rather than the waist.
By keeping your checklist simple, you'll be more inclined to implement these tips on race day when your mental and physical capacity is at a low.