Running (or walking) is such a natural thing that we don’t think twice about it. It is a basic motor skill development and a milestone when a baby begins to walk/run. As kids grow up and they discover the joy of running with the wind in their hair, they just run.
But somewhere along the way, some of us (most of us) become sedentary adults for whom running has provided an outlet from daily life and has become a passion. Oh wait … that might just be me.
Anyway, with running long distance comes niggles and aches and sometimes injuries. As runners, we try to look for ways to fix these. We stretch, get massages, crosstrain, strength train, and so on. However, a clue to avoiding these niggles and pains might lie in our running form. I’ve often thought that a “running form clinic” was weird. I mean, its just running, isn’t it? All it needs is for us to lace up and go. Why would I want someone telling me “how” to run?
But the more I read about it, it made sense. There is a certain way to running that is more efficient and more efficient translates to more ease in running faster or longer.
I attended a “Good Form Running” Clinic at Big Peach Running Company, my local running store. Along with talking to us about the main essentials of good form running, they video taped us running. That was an eye opener. The ONLY thing I had going for me was I didn’t swing my arms across my body (in fact, I hardly used my arms at all, so that might not be my best asset).
I already knew that my cadence was on the lower end at 160-165 instead of closer to 180. I also knew that I hardly ever lifted my legs while running. Not using glutes, which are the strongest muscles in the leg is wasting away all that power!
But I did not realize that I was a heel striker! I also found out that I hardly had a lean. Weird, since I feel like I did, but it was more of perception than reality.
To put all of this together to run is kind of confusing! So they suggested that I focus on increasing my cadence by concentrating on getting 180 for 1 min every 10min, and then gradually increasing that time. The heart is what needs to be trained, they said, and the heart is the biggest muscle so it is easy to train it.
Also suggested were a few drills – knee highs and butt kicks. The idea is that the exaggerated motion of the drills mimic the free action of running and they help build memory into the legs by teaching them how to move.
( If you don’t know about the drills, check these links I found on youtube. High Knees – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKyukKLmNUc Butt Kicks – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g36vM-JmtU4)
If you are interested in seeing how bad I look while running – heel strike, no lean, not lifting up my legs and definitely low cadence. http://www.coachseye.com/RdXD
If you have a clinic near you, I highly recommend it. If not, ask a friend to videotape you while running and watch yourself as you really run. Count your steps to calculate your cadence for a minute. It is a very easy way of making small changes for maximum gains.
Have you taken a look at your running form? Or counted cadence at the least? Are you one of the beautiful gazelles running or more of a pull-your-feet-along type of runner 🙂
Have you tried to change your form? What methods have you tried and how have you benefited?
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