Enhance Your Run: Expert Tips for Better Form & Performance | Total Endurance Aberdeen
Introduction to Running Form Improvement
Improving your running form can be very beneficial in the medium to long term, it can dramatically improve your run economy and pace and reduce injury risk, but it is hard and most runners get frustrated when they don't see progress within the first couple of weeks and then default back to how they usually run, If you are willing to be patient to make improvements to your running biomechanics, it will pay dividends later with reduced injury risk, improved efficiency you just have to be prepared to work at it!
Run Coaching Techniques for Enhanced Performance
When you begin to introduce changes in form which may be an improvement, but is not your natural way of running then your oxygen consumption goes up at a given pace. You also have to concentrate hard to do it which uses more brain power and energy so overall it feels like hard work.
It is important to introduce the changes gradually and to keep working on them until it becomes your natural way of running and you don't have to focus on it constantly. During your runs, include some short periods of time where you pay 100% focus to the aspect of your running technique you are trying to improve then relax and don't think about changing your technique, repeat this over the course of your run and gradually those changes will become easier to maintain and you can begin to focus on the technique for longer and need less focus to do so.
Order of Introducing Changes
Everybody is different, so there is no "one size fits all" procedure for improving running form but the notes below will give a general idea of the steps to take to improving your run biomechanics.
Good posture in everyday activities like sitting and walking often translates to better posture in running. Poor posture during a run can limit your ground reaction force, leg swing speed, and cadence. It's important to maintain an upright stance with shoulders back, head high, hips aligned under your shoulders, and a slight arch in your lower back. This alignment should be a focus not just while running, but also in daily activities. Running with a tall, proud posture, looking ahead, ensures a healthier, more efficient running form
There is much discussion around different foot strike patterns in running, such as heel striking, mid-foot, and forefoot landing. We advocate for a mid-foot landing, where both the forefoot and heel make contact with the ground simultaneously. This, however, is secondary to the alignment of your foot with your knee and upper body. Ideally, your shin should be vertical, and your knee directly above your ankle when your foot strikes the ground. Overstriding, characterised by landing on the heel with the foot far ahead of the body, leads to less efficient movement and increased risk of injury.
Landing with your foot far ahead while running leads to a braking effect with each step. This positioning delays your foot's movement under your body, postponing the generation of propulsive force until your foot crosses your center line. Effective running focuses more on pushing rather than pulling. Overstriding often results in a lower stride rate. Concentrating on increasing your stride rate can help in reducing overstriding, thus making your running more efficient and effective.
Optimizing your arm movement can significantly enhance your running efficiency. Proper posture allows for the easy incorporation of a more effective arm swing. Aim for movements that are both restrained and powerful, focusing on driving your elbows straight back while minimizing forward motion. Inefficient arm swings, often seen with hunched shoulders, can lead to unnecessary upper body movements. If your elbows flare outwards, it might indicate a need for improved stability, where your arms are compensating for balance.
Increased Knee Flex in Swing
Runners with better run form usually have increased knee flex of the leg which is off the ground and swinging forward. This varies with speed and knee flex should increase as the runner gets faster, but generally if your swing foot always stays very close to the ground it is very difficult to increase your stride length without over striding. If you can lift your foot off the ground faster and higher you have more room for your leg to move under your body and because your leg is less straight it will swing forward faster allowing you to increase stride rate.
Limited Knee flex in Stance
It is important that when you land your knee is slightly flexed in order to help absorb the shock of landing. Even when you are running at a modest pace you will land with a force of about 2.5 times your bodyweight. It is important that this force does not cause you to sink excessively as you move to mid stance as you then need to use valuable energy straightening your leg and pushing your upper body back upwards before you can push off the ground.