Ok, what is the best running form? If you watch the video of chris-solinsky-stride-analysis the answer to that question can be very complicated. That’s great if you are an Olympic runner, but what about us normal runners that ask that question. My wife, who is training for her first half marathon, was reading a blog and watching a video about an Olympic runner. The author said to note how the runner leans forward at the ankles so that gravity can help him move forward, which he called “controlled falling.” So she tried that on the treadmill and it works, but it took a lot of mental focus to do it. So running while leaning forward is not normal for her, she asked, do I have any tips on how to train to lean forward at the ankles while running? That’s a great question.
Most people think running is easy. Just put your foot in front of the other and repeat. Depending on your goals, your running form is important to your speed and most importantly your ability to remain injury free. Any running plan you have or goal for your next race needs to put staying injury free first. If your hurt you can’t run and no race. Although leaning forward is good running form, more important is how you’re landing on your foot. Don’t over stride. Many running injuries are caused by heal striking. When you’re running keep your knee over your foot, and land on your mid foot then your heal.
A few exercise’s you can do to help you with your form. Do sets of 10, exercise’s 4-7 can be done on your run when you’re bored. Just count to 20 (10 each leg)
1) Run in place – Using a rail or fence, put your hands on the rail, lean into rail or fence about 7-10 degrees and run in place. Lean with your ankles and keep your body straight, head up.
2) Jump in place – Although this will not help you lean, it is a great way to feel how you should mid foot strike when you land and not heal strike. Jump up pushing off with your toes and landing back on your toes. Hard to jump with your heels and hard to land on your heels. This is how you should be running too.
3) Calf Drops – Stand barefoot with the balls of your feet on a step. Rise up on your toes with both feet. Shift your weight to one foot; lower down on that foot. Rise up on both, lower on one.
4) High knees – Drive your knees skyward with each stride, like a drill major in a marching band. Don’t worry about forward speed. Simply lift those knees high. This drill strengthens your hip flexor muscles and improves your push-off power.
5) Butt kicks – The opposite of high knees in that you’re doing an exaggerated back kick. Literally, you should be “kicking your butt” with the heel with each stride. This drill stretches and strengthens your quadriceps muscles.
6) Skipping – Yep, just like you used to do as a kid. Use a slightly exaggerated arm motion to propel yourself upward and forward. Skipping improves your coordination and push-off power.
7) Bounding – As if you were jumping from one rock to another, exaggerate your normal running stride’s height and length. Run in slow motion, alternately letting each foot do all the work of absorbing impact, then pushing off.
8) Incline or Hills – If you run on the treadmill, put the incline to about 7-10%. Lean from your ankles. If you run out side do hill workouts. Running up hill or on an incline is also a good way to ensure you don’t over stride or heal strike.
Check out my other post title “Running Economy” for more details on running form.