Tag Archives: running form

running drills to improve running form

Running Drills to Improve Your Running Form

 

running drills to improve running formYou know it is important to have good running form, but often it is developing that good running form that is hard.

The 3 main keys to good running form is:

  1. Mid Foot Strike
  2. Angles:  Dorsiflexed foot and knee to 90 degrees
  3. Forward Tilt

Here are some running drills to improve running form:

kangarun

Kangarun

Runner’s World published an interesting article giving a review of a new app called Kangarun.

http://www.runnersworldonline.com.au/default.aspx?kangaruns=newsdisplay&id=3629

Runner’s World seems to think the app works pretty well.  Unfortunately, since I am not an iphone user I haven’t been able to test the app myself, but I would highly recommend anyone with an iphone try out this app!

Why would I have someone try out this app?  For one, it is only $.99.  We make so many silly purchases in life, why not one for $.99 that can help our running form?  Half the battle with teaching running form, is the inefficient runners don’t realize they are running inefficiently and the efficient runners keep trying to correct their stride, making them more inefficient then they started out.

Having an app to give you an overview of what you are doing is a perfect, inexpensive way to begin to increase your running efficiency!

kangarunThe app works by giving you feedback on vertical movement during your run.  If your running is inefficient (or if you are type A like most of the runners out there and want to work to improve the efficiency you already have) reread Good Running Form is a Easy as Listening to Your Own Body and How To Find Dorsiflexion.  Then during your next workout see if your efficiency graphs improve!  If they don’t improve the first time, focus on another cue.  Overtime if you watch the efficiency graphs and keep working to improve different aspects of your form, your running will increase greatly!  You will also learn which cues give you the most efficient run.  If your efficiency score greatly increases when you focus on landing on your mid foot, you are most likely a natural heel striker.  If this cue doesn’t improve your efficiency much, it may mean you already do that well, but you have to work on your forward tilt!

I don’t recommend working on form every day.  Obviously we all want to get faster and work to run longer.  Therefore, we can’t always focus on form.  Sometimes we need to focus on speed and use our natural form.  Over time you will begin to see the more efficeint running pattern becomes your natural form!  I recommend aiming to use your efficiency app to track progress twice a week:

  1. When you do your easy recovery runs.  (This is a good time to focus on form since you aren’t running hard or for a long time.)
  2. When you do speed work.  (Often when we work to run faster form goes out the window.  Don’t necessarily focus on running cues if it destroys your ability to hit your times, but do check the graph afterwards.  If you spend some time each run thinking about running form, the largest efficiency gains will come during your speedwork runs!)
Kangarun recommends using a treadmill when using the app to get the best results.  Often we naturally vary our speed as we run and a treadmill is a great way to maintain constant speed so the app can correctly calculate our vertical movement per mile.
Have you tried Kangarun? Let me know what you think!
patting your head and rubbing your belly

Patting your head and rubbing your belly

patting your head and rubbing your belly

Do you remember that grade school trick to pat your head and rub your belly?  It always starts by one kid come to school on Monday having learned it over the weekend.  By the end of recess every kid is walking back into class patting their head and rubbing their belly.  Tricks like this involve complex motor pathways.  It probably took you a couple tries (or maybe more for some of us….I’m not the most coordinated person, I’m just the most stubborn, refusing to give up til I get it!)  Once you got it, it became easy.  That is of course until flash forward 20 years from then your child comes home from school patting their head and rubbing their belly with a tummy wrap.   Then when you try to show them you could do it too, it didn’t come so easy again.

That is what training running form is all about.  With patting your head and rubbing your stomach you have 2 variables, circle motion vs. tap and left vs. right hand.  Running involves endless more body parts (arms, legs, head, core, butt, knees, ect, ect!), different types of terrain, different weather, and not to mention all the other countless variables (being sick, tired, hungry, too full, too heavy , too skinny, hot, cold, ect ect!)  How can you keep that coordination trick right without practicing it ALL THE TIME!

The cool thing about learning coordinated movements is that it helps our neural functioning.  Just like crossword puzzles have been shown to keep minds sharp; complex movements also build neural connections through out the brain and body.  These added neural connections make you sharper not only in your movements while running and otherwise, but also in those meetings later on during your day and challenging discussions with your teenagers who seem to have gotten so “smart” all of a sudden 😉

So don’t skip form day.  You don’t want to be that person who is actually just RUBBING their head and RUBBING their tummy.

How do you know if you have proper running technique?

In response to my post Erector Spinae I was asked, “How does one know whether or not they have good posture?”  My answer to that is simple, check yourself out!  As you are running by a building, check out your reflection.  You should look like this:Proper Run Technique

Notice how this woman’s chest is tall.  Not hunched like the man below.  (Especially in the “mid” phase!)  There is a 45 degree angle from her take off foot though her chest illustrating a great forward tilt.  Some other great mechanics to note are her right dorsiflexed foot as it leaves the ground, her high knee drive, and the 90 degree bend in her elbows.

proper running technique

Many people attempting to have good posture will find themselves bending at the waist like the illustrated man above.  Also noticed how he doesn’t keep his feet underneath his body during the swing phase with his overstride and heel strike.  Form like this will often lead to shin splints or knee issues.

So next time you are running by a building with reflective mirrors check yourself out.  It isn’t arrogant, it’s just a tool to being a better running.  I bet the more the you do it, the better you will look 😉