Most ultrarunners we know have little mnemonics they use as mantras at various stages during a long run. Damian Hall famously had FFF on his arm when he broke the Pennine Way FKT. One we’ve been using, based on the final advice in ‘The lost art of running’, is HHHH.
A mental and physical cue. Head up (form), smile on, and focus on why we are here and doing this (Damien’s FFF). Head up also means we won’t miss all the amazing sights, sounds and smells of the environment around us. But don’t forget to keep your eyes on the trail! A micro stop every now and then to take in the view really won’t impact your time that much!
Leading with the heart – again mental and physical. Physically heart forward to keep our form together. And mentally remaining emotionally connected; there are lows in Ultrarunning but also so many emotional highs. Keeping our head up and heart open means we don’t miss any of those highs and can quickly drag ourselves through the lows (For example catching an amazing view can be an instant mood reset).
Hands? OK maybe a stretch but fixing on our hands makes sure they are relaxed, so in turn our shoulders are relaxed. They should also be balancing and driving us along (or following the elbows if that works better for you). Knowing where your hands are and what they are doing is a key element of form.
A catch all reminder to focus on our feet and form. Am I landing too heavily on my heels? Is my cadence slipping? How are my feet feeling? Am I landing well? Is there a hot spot forming I need to deal with? Your feet are going to have to carry you the distance so keeping a mental awareness of their state will help.
And that’s it. One of many little things that we use to keep us going physically and mentally. Something that we make a micro or tiny habit so we keep ‘checking in’ with our body and mind.
If not HHHH – what works for you? Let us know.