Every movement we do at the gym has an ideal and most efficient way of performing that movement. Whether it is the squat, deadlift, muscle-up, double-under, Olympic lifts, or anything else we do – everything has a standard and best practice start and finish position in addition to how best to perform the movement from the start to the finish. You’ll notice us coaching you on cues from setting up your beginning position, how to better end your movement, or things to make your movement technically improved during the movement.
Running is no different.
Let that sink in a bit. Most of us, unless trained formally for a run-specific sport, have never broached the idea that running has an ideal form and position. As kiddos, we basically learn to use our neck, roll over, crawl, walk, and then baby deer sprint. But now that we know better, we want to move better. So, we are converting some of our old baby deer bad habits into efficient positions and techniques that should make running easier, safer, and more in line with doing less work for greater gain.
There is a plethora of amazing information about efficient running technique as it relates to using gravitational force, muscle elasticity, proper torque, and stride cadence. We will cover many of these cursorily but for the sake of time we are going to focus primarily on the following three things that you should definitely keep in mind and always focus on with running: posture, the lean(fall), and the pull.
- Much like double-unders, we are looking for a quiet body when we run. This means we want the things that should be moving to move in the way we want but minimize everything else that doesn’t translate to the overall movement.
- Head should be set up so that it is neutral and aligned with the spine, you’ll hearing coaches referring to the “gun” or “L” to address this during classes.
- Shoulders should be down and relaxed (relaxation translates to a more quiet body than contraction does).
- Elbows next to our sides, with elbows bent at slightly less than 90 degrees; this will help prevent over-rotation or cross-rotation (meaning the left arm crosses over the centerline of body to the right plane during the stride, a no-no).
- Running is the art of controlled falling, over and over again, utilizing gravity, our muscle elasticity, and proper form to keep resetting ourselves to safely continue to fall.
- Lean should be generated from ankles, not torso or hips.
- Try to keep all other joints above the knees stacked (so no bend at waist or torso leaning forward).
- Speed is governed by lean, meaning that if we want to go faster, we lean more (but ONLY if we can maintain proper body position and mechanics)
- Don’t need a lot of lean to go fast, but do need control and consistency with lean and body. For example, in an ideal and constant situation, a 5 degree lean constitutes a 4:08 mile time. How many of us run that fast? I didn’t think so, that’s because we start doing all sorts of things with our bodies that create fatigue, undue exertion, or deceleration (many of us fight against ourselves and gravity when we run).
- Use mid foot strike with quick ground contact under center of mass as it passes over (no landing in front or heel striking)
- Use hamstrings to quickly pull leg straight up into “Figure 4” position
- Ground reaction and muscle elasticity is used instead of muscular energy
- Lean is gas, pull is exhaust
Clear as mud? Perfect. Don’t worry, we’ve lots of drills to work from basic concepts to advanced skills. This is just to get us all up to speed so when coaches start telling you to lean you don’t try to get into your best limbo position or start jamming to your favorite Terror Squad song. As always, we’re here for questions as they come up.