Ok, so where did the summer go??
Rather later than promised but here are a few tips on optimising your technique for running, be you a beginner or hardened athlete looking to tweak your performance.
1) Think light and tall. Imagine a helium balloon is raising you upwards, rather than sinking deep into the ground!
2) Move in a forwards / horizontal direction. Don’t waste energy bouncing up and down. Imagine your hips are being pulled forwards along horizontal rails.
3) Strike the ground with your mid foot, not on your heels or fully up on your toes (unless sprinting). Heel-toe gait tends to cause higher impact forces through your body leaving you more susceptible to injury, and toe running will exhaust your calves and Achilles over the long distances.
4) Minimise your foot-ground contact time. As soon as your foot has hit the ground, roll fully and evenly over your toes to pick your foot up as quickly as possible. The less time your foot is in contact with the ground, the less time abnormal forces have to pass on up your ankle, shin, knee etc etc and the quicker you will be into the next stride (quicker cadence) to get you to your destination sooner. Additionally rolling over the outside of your foot and not fully over your big toe causes a rotation of your shin and so on up the body causing potential injury, and also reduces the efficiency of your gluteal muscles or buttocks.
5) Keep a relaxed “core.” Our ribs and shoulders should be able to dissociate from our pelvis (i.e. move in different directions) to enable efficient movement. “Bracing” your core (or middle) keeps your ribs and pelvis locked together thus restricting your stride length, arm swing and lung expansion. I believe in “Dynamic Core Control” (control through movement) not “Core Stability” (fixing your core).
6) Allow your arms to swing in the direction you wish to travel. Whatever your arms do, your legs will follow. So if you tend to run with your arms swinging across your body then your legs will try to do the same and you waste energy working against that to propel yourself forwards. If your arms tend not to swing at all, then you are leaving all the work to your legs, and therefore reducing your efficiency.
So, there’s a few tips for starters. Why not video yourself running and see how you compare to the comments above. If you already have the perfect style, then great, keep up the good work. If not, then pick one thing at a time to concentrate on next time you don your trainers…
…Finally, if you are at a loss on a Saturday morning at 9am, then why not seek out your local free Park Run 5k event at www.parkrun.com and join other like-minded, all ability runners over a timed 5k route and practise your new technique!
Happy (and efficient) running!