Ask any runner and they’ll tell you one of the most important things to focus on while out on the road (or track) is maintaining proper form. That means no slouching or hunching your shoulders, no overextending your legs and absolutely no clenching your hands. All of which is a lot easier said than done, especially when you’re halfway through mile six and trying to remind yourself to breathe. So, when given the chance to talk about form with one of the most elite marathoners of all time, Meb Keflezighi, I took the opportunity and ran with it (sorry, not sorry).
I met Keflezighi while taste-testing a new wellness beer for runners (or really any hard working athlete) called 26.2 Brew. In between sips of brew, I slipped in a question, to see if he had any form-related tips that could make longer runs a little easier.
“This is why I always wear sunglasses! It forces you to keep your head up, otherwise they’ll just slide right off your nose. I’ve been running with sunglasses since high school,” he said.
This super-simple piece of advice felt so obvious, and yet was something I’d never once considered. But if it works for the man who won silver at the 2004 summer Olympics for marathon running, placed first at both the 2009 New York City and 2014 Boston marathons and has been known to complete all 26.2 miles in just two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds, then it was definitely worth a try.
I have to admit Keflezighi’s tip was a real game changer. I’ve noticed that keeping my head perfectly upright has actually had a domino effect on the rest of my body. My back straightened up. I relaxed my shoulders and my arms followed suit. And now, long runs have become that much easier.
You don’t have to be regularly clocking 26.2 miles to utilize Keflezighi’s advice, either. In fact, it’s a pretty good tool for newer runners as it can help them get acquainted with proper form. It probably won’t suddenly turn you into an elite marathoner, but it will make this year’s charity Thanksgiving 5K feel a whole lot better.