Monday, May 20, 2013

Good Form Running

Genevieve from New Balance at Fit Tri Run in Galveston

FitTriRun store in Galveston hosted a running clinic this past Saturday.  It was taught by Genevieve from New Balance. (Gosh I hope I spelled it right.  I know it's not pronounced the way most of us think it should be but I think I have the spelling correctly.)  This was my first time to a running clinic so I went suited up to run or maybe not.  I forgot my water bottle (which is a definite no no in this Texas heat and humidity) and I forgot my strap for my phone.  Fortunately, most of the clinic consisted of doing some exercises inside the AC'd store and doing a very short run in front of the store.  I learned that a running clinic is a class to instruct you on the proper form or technique of running and also record you to humiliate...I mean consult you on how you can better your form.

Now, Genevieve did not humiliate me. It was a joke.  However, she did record each of us running past her, first with shoes and second time barefoot.  Then she hooked her Ipad, the device she used for recording, to a large TV inside the store and proceeded to play each person in slow motion as she critiqued their running.  I have to say it was interesting to see everyone in slow motion. You see alot of minute things you would have missed had you watched at regular speed. For instance, while I was running across the screen, I could clearly see each roll of flab as it jiggled up down with each pounding of my foot and I must say, I discovered that each jiggle comes in waves and not just one big whop! Ok, that is not the only thing I discovered but before I go into my evaluation let me tell you some of the things I learned about good form running.

  1. Posture:  Stand tall while you are running (even if you are only 5'1").  Your toes should point forward because...well because you want your toes to point in the direction that you are going. Keep your head up because looking down will cause you to slouch. Unless of course you are running on uneven road or trail and in which case you may want to look down from time to time so that you don't fall flat on your bum.  Your arms should swing freely from your shoulders with your thumbs pointing upwards and elbows at about 90 degrees.  (Another good reason to get the Amphipod hand held mobile phone holder) She suggested you reset your posture during your run by reaching up towards the sky and circling your arms back into correct position.
  2. Midfoot:  You should aim to land on your midfoot when running.  Visualize marching in place while your ankles are flexed.  Heel striking can cause plantar fasciitis, over striding and injuries because of the hard landing.  Landing on the forefoot can cause Achilles pain, calf strain and shin splints.  She said shin splints happen because the wrong muscles are being used. Instead of the calf being used, the runner is using their shin.  
  3. Cadence:  Ok, this was completely new to me. But when running your cadence should be 175-180 strides per minute.  That is 90 strides per leg.  If you are not sure about what that is and you have a smart phone, look for a free metronome app from Itunes or Googleplay and set it at 180.  Try to match the cadence at home while marching in place. Or click here for an online metronome.  She also mentioned Jogtunes that works on your IPhone or Android phone. To find your current cadence, count the number of right foot strikes you do per 20 seconds and multiply by 6.  Remember to run light.
  4. Lean: This was a fun exercise.  She asked us to stand with are toes pointing forward and lean forward from our ankles until we felt the urge to take a step forward. She said that angle just before we fall forward is the optimum angle to utilize gravity to propel you forward rather than excessive muscle force. Some of us did that one over and over again.  I think we just liked the idea of falling forward.
Sounds like a lot to memorize, right?  Well she said one way we could train ourselves to do this naturally would be to barefoot run once a week. (of course make sure the surface is smooth and free of broken glass or loose gravel that may harm your foot.) She also said to march in place prior to your run with ankles flexed to help you strike midfoot.  Also before and even during  your run, reset your posture by swinging arms overhead and bringing them back to your side.   Also, listen to your foot steps.  They should be light. Your goal is to reduce the sound of your footsteps to a minimum because that means you are running light.  

Well when we watched the video of my running, we discovered that I look down instead of forward. One could argue that I am a trail runner and must keep my eyes out for fallen limbs, snakes, rabbits and alligators but that is no excuse. Because I looked like I was looking directly down at my feet.  I am also a heel striker...which could explain why I am having another episode of plantar fasciitis.  I didn't seem to heel strike as badly when I was barefoot so I guess next on my list are some vibrams 5 fingers and incorporating some track work into my running routine so that I have a smooth surface.  (My husband would argue I am just looking for another reason to go shopping.) 

If you want to learn more about good form running, just click here and let me know if there is anything you discovered that you can improve.

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