How To Stay Relaxed While Running

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Cross Training For Runners
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Written by :

David Dack

Looking to improve your running speed and become a faster running?  Then staying relaxed while running is key.

How come?

Tension compromises your running technique, making your movement less efficient.  Anywhere you’d hold under tension, you’re burning up energy could be spent elsewhere.

This may seem counterintuitive since most runners usually focus on increasing their effort when trying to speed up, but tensing up creates more tension in the body. And the more you tense up, the more energy you waste. And you don’t want that.

Relaxing your body can help you achieve an efficient mile throughout your runs, allowing you to speed up for that finishing kick.

Here are some of my best tips on how to stay relaxed and run faster during your next run/race


1. Pay Attention to Tension

The first step to relieving all of that tension and staying relaxed begins with you catching yourself in the act. Or as like to stay put Attention on tension.

In other words, know your tensions spots.

Let me explain.

  • Your Arms and Shoulders

As a runner, you’re more likely to carry tension in your upper body, so pay attention to your shoulders and arms.

Are your shoulders hunched?

Are your shoulders moving up toward your ears?

Are your arms bent at a 90-degree angle?

Are you swinging your arms too forcefully? Or across the mid-line of your body

Are you clenching your hands?

For example, most runners tend to move up their hands toward their shoulders as they get tired or tense.

These are common running technique errors that could create more tension in your body.

The Solution

While logging the miles, regularly check the position of your shoulder to ensure they’re staying relaxed throughout.

Keep your arms swinging at your side and not cross your midsection.

When you’re crossing your arms over your chest, they’ll begin to move up toward your shoes which force you to hunch over. This not only makes it harder to breathe but causes discomfort and pain in your neck, shoulders, and back.

If you notice tension building in your arms, drop and shake them out. Next, re-position the anthem at a 90-degree angle while keeping your shoulders back and loose.

Guilty of holding onto tension in your shoulders? Roll your head and push your shoulder blades together, then let your shoulders drop.  This should release any tension in the area.

Feel the tension in your fist? Try squeezing them even hard for a moment and then relax. Your hands should be unclenched—imagine you’re holding a raw eggs butterfly.

  • Your Face

The face is another prone area to tension. Pay Attention to your face.

Are you clenching your jaw?

If you notice any of these, you’re not only exerting extra effort but also limiting your oxygen intake.

The Solution

Try opening and closing your mouth a few times—think exaggerated yaw or taking a slow and long inhale and exhale.

  • Your Neck

Another common tense-prone area in runners is the neck.

How far your chin sticks out as well as your head tile are key to proper posture.

Bad head posture—or what’s known as texting neck—can result in stress in the upper body, which may slow down your stride.

The solution

If you notice that you are straining or tightening up your neck, try rolling it forward for a moment, then backward, then to the sides while taking deep breaths.

Gaze ahead naturally, not down at your feet.  Gaze ahead roughly 30 to 60 feet ahead of you’re and only glance down if needed—when encountering an obstacle on the road, for instance.

This should be enough to straighten your back and neck and bring them into proper alignment. Avoid jutting out your chin.

2. Look for the Pain

Bring your Attention to any uncomfortable or painful areas in your body.

This could lead to tension build-up in other areas. Keep in mind that your body works like one system.

It’s only as strong as its weakest link. Pain in your shins may build up tension in your calves and quadriceps, forcing you to alter your running technique. This can lead to many issues on its own.

3. Try A Mantra

Mantras can also help you instill relaxation and calmness into your running form.

In essence, mantras consist of a word—or a set of words—that you repeat to yourself. This should help soothe your nerves and keep your mind calm when things don’t go as smoothly as planned.

I’d recommend picking a short sentence—no more than a few words is ideal—that helps center and inspire you.

Next, the moment you feel things are spiraling out of control, repeat your mantra—either inside of your head or out loud—over and over again to bring your attention back to the center and distract you from any discomfort or negative thoughts.

4. Hire A Coach

In case this is too much to hand, or you feel confused about it, I’d recommend that you hire a coach to help you detect your tense spots so that you make your proper changes and take the right steps to provide relief.


This may seem like a lot opt digest, but assign things in life; practice makes perfect. So the more you practice these traits and try to build the habit, the better you’ll get.

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