If your running form resembles any of the guys in the video above, you should probably put the brakes on running for a little bit and continue reading. Maybe you’ve already checked out our previous article on run workouts for the time-crunched triathlete but your form is still wonky. Even if you don’t look like the folks in this video, everyone can improve their running form. Most of my clients, even professional athletes, use these drills to improve and maintain their running form.
RUNNING AS A SKILL
Most people ran in perfect form as kid running in your yard with bare feet. But for the last 15-40 years (depending on your age) you have probably been wearing shoes 90% of your waking life and sit down for a majority of the day. This has dramatically changed how the body moves and can even imprint poor running habits. So how do you get back to that perfect form you had has child? Just as a pianist practices on the piano, a runner needs to practice running. To clarify, there is a huge difference between running and exercising. If you’re reading this I would assume you want to; A. become a runner for endurance competition purposes or B. simply know how to run better. No matter what category you’re in, you need to shift your focus from running as exercise to running as practice.
TIP 1: DRILLS
I recommend doing running drills at least once a week, year round. The specific running drills you do depend on you and your running weaknesses. I recommend that all runners practice the following workout:
Run 10-20 minutes to a park or an area with a flat grassy place you can run on. Take off your shoes and run 8-10×100 yard repeats at just below all out sprint pace, in your barefeet, focusing on forward lean, forefoot strike and high cadence. Recover between each repeat by walking back to the start. Run back 10-20 minutes, aerobically, and try to implement the same barefoot running techniques while using your shoes.
TIP 2: VIDEO
Video taping yourself is one the best ways to analyze your current running form. Have a friend use your cell phone to film your running down the street. Consider getting video shots from the side, front, and back of you as you run. Then simply watch and compare your video to elite runners and look for adjustments you can make. If you have a coach, send the video to them for analysis. You will be amazed by the difference of what you think you are doing, and what you are actually doing when it comes to running.
TIP 3: TRAINING
Obviously to be a faster runner you need to run. However, many people run and don’t train to be runners. Training to be a good runner requires precise and workouts specific to you and your goals. Two of the biggest mistakes I see in running plans are the lack of variety and not including strength exercises. Rarely, if ever, will I structure 2 of the same run workouts in one week. Instead, a typical week is composed of something like this: skills run session, hill repeats, and a long run. Secondly, multiple studies show that resistance training increases running performance. Not only does it improve your running core stability, but it also prevents injury.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
While the topic of running form is continuously debated, I believe the above 3 tips are the best for any runner to follow. While many people swear by certain running techniques, when it comes to a race it doesn’t matter who landed on the fore-foot or mid-foot but rather who got to the finish line faster. Implementing the tips above will make you that guy.