The Athletes Guide: Running Technique (2/4)

So before I start with this episode of The Athletes Guide I think it’s time to make something clear. My blog is divided into seperate categories at this point: Look Back Sunday, The Athletes Guide and the random  blog posts about my personal experiences and thoughts. This is done to deliver a variety in content for me as well as for you, you may like one and hate the other. Now  I’ve heard several people tell me that they don’t like The Athletes Guide because it’s so technical, this is logical because those people aren’t athletes or don’t have any aspiration to become an athlete. Ofcourse you aren’t going to like posts that talk about running technique, that just isn’t you interest. Would you read a book about quantum mechanics if that doesn’t interest you? Exactly, then why would you read an article about running technique if you aren’t interested in it?
Just to make it clear, I’m not mad and I highly, highly, highly appreciate the feedback! Thing is that I myself like reading technical sport stuff and I know other atheletes also do because it’s just what we do, we love perfecting our technique and training. I will keep writing in all of the 3 categories so stay tuned on all 3 bases!

So to get started for the running technique:

Lower body/Foot Landing

Heel striking
Now, by far the most common and therefore the most injury-causing mistake is heel striking. This is a mistake that I made and that caused me to almost have an injury after 4 months of training. The problem here is that modern day running shoes have a big layer of cushioning under your heel, that layer makes it comfortable to land on your heel and therefore people think it is good technique. In reality this is what heel striking does: It acts as a brake. So every step you take, you immediatly brake afterwards. That’s like tapping your gaspedal and then braking, tapping, braking etc. Needless to say, that’s a lot of wasted energy! Heelstriking is also linked to several different injuries including the well-known shin splints.
Footstrike11
Fix: The proper technique is to land on your mid/forefoot, basically re-using the energy to make you move forward, this can actually be achieved on modern day running shoes, it just takes a bit of time getting used to. Also it is important to place your feet under your hips (and therefore you center of gravity) when landing, this is the optimal landing position. I could write a whole bunch of articles about this subject but since there is one YouTube video that helped me understand what actually happens I suggest you take a look! I suggest you start with running on your midfoot since forefoot landing can be hard on your calves, it’s like jumping rope for 1 consecutive hour (trust me, I know!).

Not kicking there heels back
kicking back
To have a proper running technique it is important that you swing your heels slightly back to your back (see image). This movement will activate your hamstrings and glutes and it will allow you to bring you leg back to the front in a more energy efficient way, this will all contribute to a more economic way of running. When it comes down to running long distances, it is important that you remember that you don’t need to kick back your heels real far, just a slight kick back will give you a more efficient running technique. This technique does NOT include sprinters since there technique differs from long distance running in lots of ways.

Trying to Hulk-Smash the ground
Some people smash their feet into the ground while running, this is totally unnecessary and only has your legs absorbe more energy which enlarges the chance of an injury.
Fix: Try to shorten the time your feet touch the ground as much as possible, when you do this try to imagine that your feet are floating above the road instead of smashing into it. It is important to have a cadence of 180 steps per minute (an article about this coming soon), this is the optimal frequency and if you do this the problem of hulk smashing the ground will be solved.

Trying to lift your knees high up in the air
You may have seen Usain Bolt throw his knees up in the air during his legendary 100 metre sprints but unless you’re a sprinter yourself: don’t. Long distance running does not involve a high knee and will only cause you to waste a lot of energy making a movement that will do you more harm then it brings good during any 1K+ race.
Fix: just don’t

So for the people who were interested in improving there running technique: I hope I have helped you and soon there will be 2 more articles about running: cadence and running hills! See you then!

 

 

 

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2 comments

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I know that I’m heel striking, at least with my left foot, and I have to train myself out of it. I think that this post will help.

    Like

  2. I’m so glad I have been able to help. Heel striking made running a terrible experience for me, as soon as I fixed it all the problems with running where gone. Hope it does the seem for you, good luck improving your technique!

    Like

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