I am absolutely passionate about run mechanics. With a change in mindset, patience, and practice, you can perfect your run mechanics to both avoid injury (thus adding to consistency in training) and improve overall efficiency and speed. This will ultimately make you a happier and faster runner!
Below is some video footage of fantastic run from from speedy Ryan Snapp, plus some tips for good run mechanics. Subscribe to my YOUTUBE CHANNEL to see more videos on endurance sports!
- Body posture/lean: Run mechanics start with body position. Efficiency and speed start with good forward lean. Good posture in running is where the body, from head to toe, leans forward and uses gravity to assist in speed. Runners should lean from the ankles (like a ski jumper) and avoid bending at the waist and looking straight down.
- Foot Placement and Overall Gait: Over-striding is a major cause of a whole host of injuries. Over-striding is reaching the foot out in front of your GCM (general center of mass, or essentially body weight) and landing on the heel. You should land with your feet directly under your body and hips and land either on the fore-foot or whole foot (depending on speed). This will help cushion your landings on each and every step. If you over-stride, try running in place (which is all forefoot landing) and then leaning forward from the ankles. This will force you to keep your feet underneath you and have a “spring-loaded” running gait. You should be your own shock-absorbers!
- Back Leg Extension/Forward Knee Drive: Flexibility is key to having a nice long stride and covering a lot of ground with each step, without over-striding. The glutes, hips and hip flexors need to flexible to allow for a full run stride. Tight hips lead to a “cross-country skiing” like motion with an overly-quick cadence. Strive for a good back leg extension and front knee drive in terms of big angles in order to improve efficiency and speed.
- Flexibility: Being flexible through the hips, glutes and calves is critical to injury prevention and speed. The more flexible you are, the better back leg extension and knee drive you can have… thus making you a run faster. Stretching 15 minutes at least three times a week is all it really takes! Stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves are essential.
- Cadence: Many people have a low cadence (steps per minute). Run cadence is more a function of good run mechanics rather than a result…meaning you shouldn’t just strive for a particular cadence. Strive for good running form, and a healthy cadence will ensue. Typically, a cadence of 88 steps per minute indicates that you aren’t over-reaching/striding.
- Arm Carriage and Head/Vision: The upper body and lower body should be fluid and coordinated. Many runners hold their upper bodies too stiff and don’t allow for natural fluidity, which assists in the body switching weight from one foot to the other. Arms should stay relaxed and swing somewhere between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the hip bones. Arms should move forward and back rather than twisting side to side. Head looks forward and toward the ground, well out in front. The head shouldn’t bobble 🙂
- Staying Relaxed and Listening to Your Body: Staying relaxed and thinking “light on the feet” will reduce the impact into the ground as well as the overall load into the ground. Staying relaxed will also lead to landing with less tension in your muscles. This is key. When making run mechanics changes, expect that you won’t be able to run as far as “normal” and, therefore, back off when something starts to nag at you! Listen to your body… including your muscles, tendons bones and ligaments! Cardinal rule #1 in training is to avoid injury. So for each and every run, if something starts to nag above what’s comfortable, be willing to cut it short. Consistency is key! Catching injuries before they happen is imperative to that end.