Running Mechanics 102
As promised, I have a few more simple tweaks to nudge your running form in the direction of more efficiency and fewer injuries.
If you didn't get a chance to read Thursdays article, you can find it here. I recommend you quickly review the notes on Hips & Butt, Cadence, and Feet.
I’m going to recommend the same running workout, so you can relax your mechanics (and your brain!) during the easy intervals, and focus on different tweaks during the hard intervals. While this may sound counter intuitive, running hard (when you’re fresh… if you’re becoming fatigued everything falls apart…) tends to engage more muscular engagement. Especially through the core as your exhale become more forceful. This can make it easier to run centered under your mass. Also, running faster will often increase your cadence a bit naturally. You’re naturally a bit quicker to pick those feet up.
Important to note: Please try to use RPE as your gauge for “HARD” vs speed. Making changes to your natural stride, however subtle, can make the running feel harder at first. This is especially true when you first work on increasing your cadence.
Warm-up 1: Hip flexor mobility and 10-16 hip bridges (see Hips & Butt from Thursday’s Post)
Warm-up 2: 4-7 minutes easy running
FAST pace : EASY pace
Walk for 1 minute
Repeat 2-4 times
Cool down 5 minutes.
Here are today’s tweaks:
Yes. Dance when you run. Not only does “tango-ing” help some runners naturally pick up their cadence, it also encourages more symmetrical and centered running. Which in turn lends itself to more efficient and safe pavement pounding.
It’s quite simple. As you run, rather than think “one, two, one, two, one, two…” as each foot hits the ground (left, right, left, right…) you think “one, two, three, one, two three…” The “one” or natural down beat, is now falling on alternate feet. You may tend to breathe out and brace on alternate foot falls, so that both hips get the advantage of a little more core stability as that foot hits the ground.
When I spoke about foot strike position, I mentioned the importance of trying to strike under your centre of gravity. Well, that’s a lot easier to do if the rest of your body is nicely “stacked”.
Let’s start with the head:
Your head is heavy. And when it slides forward (think “text-neck”) it gets even heavier. Your neck and upper back will have to strain to hold it up. And you curve ever so slightly beyond your centre of gravity. So, hold your head right above your neck. Keep your gaze about 20 metres in front of you. Even try imagining you have a toilet plunger on the top of your head and someone is gently pulling up!
Relax them. Keep them loose as well as low and back. This is where they are “meant” to sit, so despite being relaxed you’ll actually get better stability from them. AND in this position, they will help keep you centered.
Hands and Arms:
Relax your hands. This will help keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Okay, don’t let them flop around… but “soften” them. You know what I mean.
Bend your elbows and about 90 degrees and swing them forward and back. Naturally pivoting from that beautifully stable and relaxed shoulder!
There’s no question a strong core improves running speed and posture. Running with your pelvis in a slight anterior tilt (think slightly distended belly) will inhibit your abs from firing effectively and may force your hamstrings to work harder to whip your legs forward. Keeping your pelvis in a more neutral position, for one mechanically “stacks” your pelvis right under your head and shoulders. It also makes it easier to activate your abdominals to help drive your thigh forward, and stabilize the hips so each foot fall can be lighter.
Okay. Enough geeking out for one day.
If you have any questions about this or any workout, please feel free to connect with Meg here.