There was an interesting article in the New York times, given to me by my Dietitian friend Chelsey Bobcek. (Thank you Chelsey I love having articles sent my way! I would love anything YOU think I might find interesting!) In Finding Your Ideal Running Form by Gretchen Reynolds, Reynolds states, “ ‘You can optimize your gait naturally,’ she** says, ‘by becoming more conscious of your running movement and how it feels.’ Your body, at least in the early stages of becoming a runner, can be a fine and knowledgeable coach.”
The research proposes that maybe, “’If runners can self-optimize,’ as the women in this study seemed to do, then ‘maybe we should teach runners to learn to understand how the movement feels to them,’ she says, rather than completely change how they run to one standardized form or another.”
If a runner can become more efficient running with improper form. They could most likely accelerate the process of becoming a good running if they understand the form they should be working for.
So then the answer is, we as coaches need to teach you, the runner what it feels like to run correctly. If we could, you would run in a way which causes your bodies the least amount of pain. (ie: If it’s painful now, you may be doing damage to your joints that will hurt more, later.) When you run correctly you put less strain on the joint.
So what does correct running feel like? As a beginning runner you should be rotating these thoughts or cues continuously through your head.
- Belly Button: Suck it in so you support your lower back and hips. Remember the hips stabilize the knees from the hips down, whereas your shoes stabilize the knee from the foot up.
- Chest: Tall, feel yourself rise out of your hips leading with the chest
- Shoulders: Relaxed, keep them away from your ears!
This is all part of having good posture
- Foot: Dorisflexed with each strike!
- Strike: On the midfoot, underneath the body. Do not overstride. Do not land on your heel.
- Quad: Begins to engage upon strike to initiate extension all the way through the glute. This will help cushion the knee joint on impact.
- Glute: Activates through push off with the ground:
- Big Toe: Gives the final push off, with ankle never leaving the doriflexed position.
- Foot: Never leaving that Dorsiflexed position.
When you are first beginning to run repeat these cues over and over in your head. Reminding your body to do this motion will train you body to activate the muscles that you wouldn’t have used before, making you a more efficient runner. When you feel like you’ve hit every cue, start making your turn-over faster,…and faster,…and faster until you are running as fast as you can, same form until you can’t keep going. You can take a break to catch your breath, it’s ok. (Your heart will thank you for pushing it! 😉 ) If you want to improve your speed, you have to show your muscles what that would feel like. One day when you’ve practiced enough and your cardiovascular level has caught up, it will come natural!
Lastly, when you are done; make sure you foam roll! As you start to develop your stride, you will be using muscles you have never used before. Treat them right, massage them when you are done so they want to keep working for you!
**Quotations within quotes are from Isabel Moore, a researcher at the University of Exeter, who led the study.