Tara Dhawale completed her junior season running on the Bridgewater-Raritan High School girls’ cross-country team.
She decided to share about her experiences from running this past fall. Among the areas that she touched on, she explained about her technique and her training while she offered advice for her fellow runners.
Her coach, Adam Pyle, had this to say about his runner, who he has great admiration for.
“Tara ran her most recent season injury free and at the varsity level. She placed 16th in our race at State Sectionals and took over two minutes off her time,” Coach Pyle revealed. “Tara is excited about her future but does not know what she wants to do. She does know that she wants to do something she is passionate and excited about.”
Here is her story that she wanted to share with the Bridgewater-Raritan High School community.
By: Tara Dhawale
Ow. I take a step. Ow. I take another step. A sharp pain erupts in my shins. I look at everyone in front of me, talking and laughing with each other as they run the warmup mile with ease. I have to stop. I limp off the track.
I feel sick as an overwhelming feeling of deja vu washes over me. Why does this always happen to me? I was just getting consistent with my training. Do I just not know how to run? It’s easy to say “just run”, but can anyone really “just run?” Maybe that’s it- maybe I just don’t know how to run.
When people talk about running, sometimes all that is talked about is mileage, mileage, mileage, and everything else gets neglected. How do I get faster? Run more mileage. How do I get stronger? Run more mileage. Technique is something that holds much greater value, yet is neglected by so many runners across the globe.
Running technique can make or break a run. Sometimes a lot of people think they need to build up their base endurance by a large amount, in order to run fast for the duration of a distance event, such as a 5k. However, I have found that focusing on good technique, in terms of how you run and how you control your breathing is more effective, as cardiovascular endurance comes as a result, and it is surprising what the human body can do.
I have had experiences with two different types of training- when I started running in my sophomore year, I was running high mileage; when I moved schools (and therefore coaches) for my junior year, I was running less than half of the amount of miles, with a high emphasis on technique. To my surprise, I found myself running a lot faster, and running felt a lot easier. With the high mileage, I found myself constantly getting injured, and frustrated because I would be out for weeks and sometimes even months running no mileage at all.
Now, running technique can be very subjective to whatever coach you talk to, or whatever source you get your information from. The basic principle is to pull your feet up from off the ground as fast as you can, and keep your hips slightly forward and your chest up. Pulling your feet up from the ground faster will not only generate speed and power, it will also prevent injuries. Injuries are caused by an interaction between a body part and some other object- whether it be the ground, a tree, a rock, etc. By pulling your feet up faster, you’re limiting the amount of time your feet are in contact with the ground, therefore limiting the impact of running on your body.
Overall, I have found focus on skill to be much more effective than focus on just running as many miles as you can. It not only prevents injury, but also prevents burnout. Of course, to the experienced runner, running more mileage can have benefits- however, what I find many people don't realize is the importance of knowing how to run before you worry about how much to run. My advice to any runner struggling: take a step back from counting miles and focus on strengthening skills to make running more comfortable, enjoyable, and efficient.
Becoming a strong runner is a continuous learning process, and I still have a long way to go. However, I am now much more educated than I was a year ago, and I’m very grateful to have the knowledge I do now. Hopefully learning more about how much technique impacts the way running feels can help athletes, or even just anyone who wants to get into running to start to enjoy the sport even more.