Monday, July 27, 2009

Running form

Lately, I've been trying hard during my runs to focus on my form. Before, my "form" consisted of "left foot in front of right foot. Right foot forward, left arm forward. Don't trip on shoe laces, look forward as to not crash into tree." It did the trick getting me from Point A to Point B. But as I am becoming more and more of a "runner" (I will be one someday!), YouTube is telling me there's more to running than moving your feet. WTF???? Who knew, right?

Ok, Ok, I exaggerate. I don't get ALL my running info from YouTube. But I did find this fascinating video comparing the running form of an Olympic marathon runner, an average runner, and a duathlon runner. I know this video is trying to sell you some sort of product that I have no clue about, but try to ignore that part. In fact, just skip to 51 seconds in to the video.

Isn't it striking how different the strides are? You can tell that the average runner is so much more upright, and each step is much shorter. I find it particularly interesting how he mentions you need good glutes/hamstring strength to kick back and bring your foot forward again.

This video was quite eye-opening. From watching my shadow, reflection in car windows, and race photos, I know I run really upright. I know I stride more with my lower leg and not my thighs. I know I don't immediately contract my hamstrings, and I know my foot lands ahead of my center of gravity. Keeping all these things in mind, I have been focusing on one aspect at a time on my runs. The biggest thing for me is the contraction of the hamstrings as soon as the foot makes contact with the ground. This has helped me spend less time on the ground, and more time going forward. Propelling myself forward with my thighs and tilting my pelvis forward really does help me move faster without too much extra effort, but I find that my muscles and bones aren't used to that sort of pounding yet. But I think concentrating on form a little bit at a time is making me more aware as a runner. Looks like I've still got a ways to go!

What do you think of this video? (Minus the product placement) What form do you focus on when you run?

I have another session of repeats on the treadmill today. Yikes, my knees are a-hurtin'! I am actually quite scared of it right now. I don't know how they'll feel for all 6 repeats. I think that I will slow it down a little if they start to twinge. No point getting hurt three weeks in just to run 5-10 seconds faster.

And now I have to go find my brain because I have been SUPER scatterbrained the last couple of days and I need to get my life back in order. Brain! Where'd I lose you at?


  1. This is super interesting! How neat!! I don't run like any of the above... more like a chicken flapping my wings LOL

  2. Julia, that's an interesting video. I like how they laid out 3 different runners side by side for comparison.

    My coach met me at the track for a session a couple of weeks ago and I was a nervous wreck because one of the things she wanted to see was my running form. I've been really focusing on it for the past year but had no idea if it was good form or not. She told me that I am a very efficient runner and didn't suggest changing anything about my form. Luckily. I have noticed that I land mid-foot, I have really focused on eliminating any bounce I may have. I look at my shadow to judge my bounce. Lately I've been working on arm swing. Keeping my elbows tucked against my body and trying to avoid them creeping up and flapping around. The only time I raise them is ever so slightly on the downhills. When I'm running faster I focus on the knee lift and try to keep my stride length tight. I'm short so my best bet is going to be a faster cadence as opposed to a longer stride. One other thing I do is when I'm running downhill I envision that my legs are the bicycle wheels on a bike and imagine them rotating around and around as opposed to moving up and down. This really helps me float down hills very easily.

    I honestly think that good running form makes a huge difference. Here is another video from the Runners World forums on running form/technique:

  3. Interesting video! Thanks for sharing! As of late I have been wondering about my "form" as well. Especially on those painful days where I realize I'm barely bending my knees when running. On Friday nights 18 miler I made a mental note to lengthen out my strides and felt a difference... now to stay focused on that and get myself running right!

    I feel ya on being scatter brained girl! It's been a whirlwind few weeks huh?

  4. I have really been trying to work on my form lately. I'm also a super uprigth runner and almost lean BACK when sprinting (i.e. finish line pics). Sooo inefficient!

    Check out Chi Running - it's an awesome book and will help you work on your form in order to promote efficient, INJURY-FREE running. It's a lot to digest so I try to work on one little aspect at a time.

  5. thanks for posting the vid ;)

    About p90x, I personally think it's really great but I also don't use it as a whole program ... and I also didn't shell out the cash for it.

    I mostly use the Back & Legs Video ... it has great leg exercises and instead of Pull-Ups I do an alternate exercise that works the same area (more or less ... cause they really don't provide alternate exercises other than using the bands). Oh, and I use the Ab ripper ... that one is really good too ... you do something like 12 exercises for 25 reps over 20 minutes ... great for the ABs.

    I have used the others once or twice only :(

    The Yoga video is kinda long but a great workout. I don't do too much Plyometrics because of my knee. I like the Kendo X and Cardio X but honestly perfer Tae-Bo for that. Chest and Back is alot of Push-ups (which I perfer to do the 100 Push-Up Challenge for).

    What I take most from the program is to mix up your workouts for better results.

  6. That is a great video, thanks for sharing. I love the awesome things you can find on YouTube. I am definitely the 'average athlete' type runner, but have been trying out new strides on my runs to help my running better. After a few minutes though of focusing on my run I end up dozing off and go back to the old way, until I snap back out of it again. Oh well, baby steps I guess, right?

  7. My college track coach was s big advocate of running form. Its all about how fast you can move your legs and how efficient you can be. Its worth video taping yourself so you can actually see how you run. Its not just your legs though, you arms make a big difference too. My left arm swings a little bit across my body and i had to work hard to get rid of that!

  8. Thanks for sharing that interesting video. I'll have to focus on my form on my next run. But there's just so many things to watch out for. Haha.
    Also, letting you know I gave you the Lovely Blog Award. Do check it out on my blog when you have the time. :D

  9. By the looks of your header, I think you have pretty good running form! Much better than pictures of people that strike heel first! Have you jumped on the Newton bandwagon yet?? I've been eyeing these sneaks for a bit now. They have some great videos about running form on their website.

  10. very interesting video! I attended a free "session" with a running coach before a race in the Spring - he had us do all kinds of weird things with our legs to see what was "proper form". Needless to say most of us were like "Ooohhh....". haha. I know I land on my feet in a "flat" way that's not ideal, but ugh, that's just how I run.....
    Some days I put more thought into it (speedwork) and can feel a difference. Most days I just do my thing.

  11. Cool video! I am a Newton girl (forefoot striker) although my form goes out the window and my heels come down in the late miles of a marathon.

  12. Wow, you know a LOT about your form. I've honestly been thinking a lot about this as well, but I'm still in the "point a to point b camp". However, during the later miles of a long run, I'll be certain to focus on keeping everything in 'alignment' and not getting sloppy.



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