20 Jul Running Technique
By Max Delacy
Running is an expression of our selves, of our freedom to choose to be somewhere else… fast.
Our running is unique. It embodies and reflects the thousand different nuances that define us at any given moment. Our emotions, thoughts, energy levels, past injuries, last meal and hydration cross reference with external variables such as terrain, time of day, temperature, altitude and humidity.
Some days we run and it feels natural, almost effortless. Other days, it is just hard work.
So there is no perfect running technique that all should emulate. But for each of us there is an ideal stride length, gait, posture and mental state that facilitates beautiful running. The kind that has you smiling for no particular reason long after you have showered off.
While our best running requires a deep mental and physical relaxation, a profound â€œletting goâ€, there are a number of physical and mental exercises that help us find our groove.
Before you put your shoes on walk barefoot for 5 minutes. Practice deep abdominal breathing, meanwhile clear your mind and focus on the feeling of effortless running. See it, feel it.
2. Preparatory Exercises
Run 400m shuttles for 5 minutes. Start easy and slowly reduce distance while building intensity. If the terrain allows you to do so safely, run barefoot. It will encourage correct muscle recruitment in your feet and lower legs while calibrating you to run light.
As you run keep your lower half grounded (knees bent), while your upper half is balanced and light. Your feet should strike the ground below not in front of the trunk.
Land lightly on your mid-to-forefoot. Stay relaxed through the calves. This allows the ankle to flex during the compression phase, which then allows the heel to gently touch the ground as a secondary movement
5. Stride length
Keep your stride short and balanced.
To determine optimal stride:
- A. Stand barefoot on a flat surface
- B. Lift one leg and bring the knee up towards your trunk to a 90° angle.
- C. Slowly bring the raised foot down as far in front of you as possible without losing your balance.
Wherever the foot touches the ground, that is your maximum stride length before you forfeit balance and stability, thus increasing impact forces and potential for injury.
Tension is the enemy of speed. Keep your shoulders and head back, spine long and hips, knees and ankles soft and responsive.
Free your sole
All these exercises will be more effective when training barefoot. Running shoes are often the problem as well as the solution. With over-protection comes weak foot musculature, unbalanced posture, altered biomechanics and increased risk of ankle injuries. When barefoot is not a safe option, Vibram Fivefingers is the next best thing. They retain all the benefits of training barefoot with the grip and protection of a Vibram sole. Check out www.fivefingers.com.au
By Max Delacy © 2007