Menu

Efficient Running Tips: Relax to go hard in intense workouts!

14/01/2017 - Coaching tips
Efficient Running Tips: Relax to go hard in intense workouts!

The counterintuitive approach of relaxing your way through intense, hard efforts

Sometimes you’ve got to relax to go hard, especially during intense running workouts!

Recently while coaching Double Unders (rope skipping movement where the rope passes twice under your feet on one jump), I found myself giving the same advice to several athletes: RELAX!

And once they relaxed, something magic happened. They began to perform! They got the movement.

This ties in to a concept I teach often in running technique clinics which I describe as Minimum Effective Dose, or MED.

A simple exercise for you to try right now to demonstrate MED

The easiest way to describe this is to ask you to stand up. So, please stand up. Now, let’s pretend that your task is to stand in place for 15 seconds. Go ahead and try it: 15, 14, 13 … and 1.

Ok, now let’s do it again, but this time I want you to squeeze all your muscles tightly. Feet, legs, glutes, core, shoulders, arms, hands and face.  And here we go: 15, 14, 13 … and 1.

How’d that feel? Think you could “stand” like that for 1 minute? Perhaps 10 or 60 minutes? Which standing variation do you think is more efficient? Well, obviously the first, but what can we learn from this? We can learn that there’s a minimum amount of tension that we need to hold in the body to stand. Any less and we’d fall to the earth. Any more and we’d be wasting energy. That minimum amount of tension is your MED for this standing exercise.

Ok, now let’s do it again, but this time I want you to squeeze all your muscles tightly. Feet, legs, glutes, core, shoulders, arms, hands and face.  And here we go: 15, 14, 13 … and 1.

How’d that feel? Think you could “stand” like that for 1 minute? Perhaps 10 or 60 minutes? Which standing variation do you think is more efficient? Well, obviously the first, but what can we learn from this? We can learn that there’s a minimum amount of tension that we need to hold in the body to stand. Any less and we’d fall to the earth. Any more and we’d be wasting energy. That minimum amount of tension is your MED for this standing exercise.

Applying MED to running, particularly hard efforts

With MED in mind, think about what’s happening in your running? Are you at MED or do you have excess tension somewhere in the system that’s creating an INEFFICIENCY in your movement and thus wasting energy? Perhaps it’s in your shoulders, which carries downstream into your hips, which impacts your breathing, coordination and foot pull. This applies to other activities as well, from cycling a mountain pass to snatching a barbell to responding to a crisis. Get yourself to MED and you’ll be right where you need to be to allow your body and mind to perform optimally, especially when the effort is intense.

The best way to practice MED is to exaggerate it in both directions, just like the standing drill. Try significantly more tension than required, then an insufficient amount, then arrive at your MED. And once you understand that, check in with yourself mid-activity to see if you’re actually at MED If not, make a correction and get there. That correction is often as easy as thinking, “Relax!”

Mind Training Tips

To run safely and injury-free, it is hugely important to learn to organize your body properly. The next level is to learn to organize your mind. Most noteworthy, this means developing awareness skills, recognizing the times when your Inner Critic is trying to own you, and leveraging your Inner Coach’s voice in a supportive role, just like your favorite coach is running beside you. I teach these tools and much more in my book, and this is how you can thrive during intense running workouts and racing.

Coach Jeff Grant Relax to Go Hard in Intense Running Workouts Article

I wish you the best on your journey to improve your running!

— Coach Jeff

Jeff Grant is the author of Flow State Runner: Activate a Powerful Inner Coach’s Voice. Based in Switzerland, Jeff is a coach and writer who specializes in mental coaching, peak performance, and transformation. Jeff’s popular weekly newsletter is a digest containing inspirational and instructional resources, including his latest content. See recent issues and subscribe for free here. Refer to Jeff’s bio and press kit for more information, and please check out Jeff’s Coach & Author page on Facebook.

Jeff Grant is the author of "Flow State Runner: Activate a Powerful Inner Coach’s Voice". Based in Switzerland, Jeff is a coach and writer who specializes in mental coaching, peak performance, and transformation. Jeff’s popular weekly newsletter is a digest containing inspirational and instructional resources, including his latest content. See recent issues and subscribe for free here. Refer to Jeff’s bio and press kit for more information, and please check out Jeff’s Coach & Author page on Facebook.

Related posts:

Efficient Running Tips: Cadence Drills
Unique running tips: training emotions: podcast interview
Bored in your running? 9 ways to get inspired
How to Get Positively Distracted with The Muse Mind Hack
How to Get Focused with The Guide Mind Hack

Free Mind Training Chapters

Join my mailing list to receive my latest news and updates. I'll send you two free chapters of Flow State Runner right away as a gift. I promise not to spam you. Check out my prior newsletter issues as an example. --Jeff Grant

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This