I spent many years as a high-jumper battling gravity. The world record holder at the time was Valery Brumel from Siberia. Brumel combined physical ability, sound training, and mental imagery to jump seven feet six inches. My coach took special note of the imagery part and told me to forget about the aluminum bar and imagine instead jumping over a wall topped with broken glass, fish hooks, and nails.
You, as a runner, can also benefit from visualization. Here are a few images for you, drawn from some of the out-standing running training programs such as Pose Running, Chi Running, and Evolution Running.
To run efficiently, just check off these cues from head to heel:
1. Fall forward from your ankles in order to enlist gravity.
2. Run softly by imagining a helium balloon attached to your head.
3. Look where you are going, not at your feet.
4. Swing your arms quickly from relaxed shoulders with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and your thumbs and index fingers touching lightly.
5. Imagine being reeled in on a big fishing line attached at your belly button.
6. Expand your lower abdomen like a balloon, then squeeze the air out.
7. Keep your knees slightly bent.
8. Land on the middle of your foot to reduce any braking that would occur from crash landing early on your heel.
9. Imagine running on hot coals with a quick cadence.
10. Think of your foot slipping backward on a banana peel.
11. Picture helium balloons lift-ing your heels.
12. Move your ankles in little circles as if they are wheels
When we run, our legs swing forward and back like a pendulum, landing on the backswing. Without shoes, we would land on our mid-foot or toward the front of our foot. But the thick heels of common running shoes catch the ground early with our knee extended and foot out front, inviting knee pain and anterior shin splints.
Minimalist. shoes with thinner heels allow more natural landings. Once you’re on the ground, just lift your heel and gravity will pull you forward. Pushing off wastes energy and promotes posteromedial shin splints and Achilles problems.
BATT: The basic aerobic training tool (BATT) is a simple baton-like device that has a menu of the 12 icons designating the visualization cues mentioned above. Good running form will flow automatically when you hold it out in front of you with both hands, like pushing a jogger stroller. Think about the menu items during your run, and add them to your memory, Before long, you’ll be calling them up by heart to run efficiently.
To make a BATT baton, print out the images at top and tape it onto a foot-long relay baton or lightweight stick.