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Bite Size - 6 Critical elements to great running form

In a new series of posts called 'Bite Size' we are distilling down a lot information into quick and easy too read guides that should take no more than 5 mins to read.

With this in mind heres the first one.

The skill of running boils down to a series of principles.

1. Develop a rapid cadence.

Ideal running requires a cadence that may be much quicker than you’re used to. Aim for 180 footfalls per minute. Get an electronic metronome (or download an app that contains this), set it for 180 beats, and practice running while syncing your leg turnover to the chirp of the metronome.

Developing the proper cadence will help you achieve more speed, as it increases the number of push-offs per minute. It will also help avoid injury, as you avoid over-striding and placing impact force on your heel.

2. Develop a proper forward lean.

With core muscles slightly engaged to generate a bracing effect, the runner leans forward from the ankles, not from the waist.

3. Land underneath your center of weight.

Rather than heel striking out in front of your body, Drills should be to make contact with the ground as your mid-foot/fore-foot passes directly under the centre of mass of your body.

When runners become proficient at this, the pounding stops, and the movement of their legs begins to more closely resemble a wheel spinning.

4. Keep contact time brief.

“The runner skims over the ground with a slithering motion that does not make the pounding noise heard by the plodder who runs at one speed,” legendary coach Percy Cerutty once said.

Drills to practice should include a foot strike that spends as little amount of time as possible on the ground. Runners aim to touch down with a light sort of tap that creates little or no sound.

The theory is that with less time spent on the ground, the foot has less time to get into the kind of trouble caused by the sheering forces of pronation, or foot rolling.

5. Pull with the hamstring.

To create a rapid, piston-like running form, the runner, after the light, quick strike of the foot, pulls the ankle and foot up with the hamstring. Imagine that you had to confine your running stride to the space of a phone box, you would naturally develop an extremely quick, light and compact form to gain optimal efficiency.

Practice this skill by standing barefoot and raising one leg by sliding your ankle up along your other leg. Perform up to 20 repetitions on each leg.

6. Maintain proper posture and position.

Proper position and posture, shifts the impact stress of running from the extremities such as the knees to larger muscles in the trunk, namely the hips and hamstrings.

The runner’s head remains up and eyes focused down the road. With the core muscles engaged, power would flow from the larger muscles through to the extremities.

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