By Cindy Lapeña
Some words are easier to figure out than others, but don’t let the way they sound freak you!
Fartlek: This is originally a Swedish word that means “speed play.” In running, a fartlek is an easy run alternating with quick sprinting bursts. It’s a good technique for beginners to build up speed work because the runner decides when to speed up and when to take it easy.
Foam Roller: This looks like play, but doesn’t always feel like fun. Foam rollers are tubes used for self-myofascial release, which simply means applying pressure to relieve knots in your muscles using a firm foam tube to massage different parts of your body, especially the legs and back. While foam rollers often look like your standard bolster pillow, they’re nowhere nearly as soft.
Foot Strike: If you don’t get this right, your feet will go on strike, but that isn’t what this strike means. Foot strike is literally how your foot strikes or hits the ground. Proper running technique requires the runner’s foot to strike the ground with the mid-foot. You shouldn’t run tippy-toe like a ballerina on points, nor should you land on your heels, which could shatter your heels. The best run uses light steps positioned directly below your hip to absorb the impact better so you’re less likely to experience injuries.
Form: Form is part of every activity, which not only makes you look good while doing it, but also helps your body perform more efficiently. It’s essential to your technique and without it you’ll look like Phoebe (in the TV comedy series, Friends) running with her arms flailing and feet kicking up every which way. Good running form means a tall yet relaxed upper body with arms swinging forward and back at 90-degree angles while remaining parallel to the body. Try to keep your legs parallel to each other as well. Need I say don’t kick your feet outwards?
Fuel: Ever wonder why nutrition is always part of a run? Long distance running depletes energy very quickly, so you need to fill ’er up! Every mile you run burns up approximately 100 calories. If you take about 100 calories after running an hour and another 100 calories every 45 minutes, more or less, you’ll replace the glycogen used up by your body. If you don’t want to stop at the nutrition stations, you can always pack your own energy pick-me-ups, which come in all shapes and sizes, from energy gels in tubes to jelly beans. All kinds of chews, bars, pretzels, and candy are also popular, with chocolate a the top of the list.
Fuel Belt: Runners have kept fanny packs in fashion, using them to hold everything from snacks and hydration to phone, cash, and identification. If you’re a runner, they’re fashionable. Otherwise they’re just geeky.