Many people think of Fall as the 'running season' it's certainly the time for marathons, all the big ones are happening now and lots of local half marathons take place in the fall also. Cooler temps make Fall a great time to work on some running drills and form work that will make you a more efficient runner when the next tri season rolls around.
Some tips on running form:
- Correct running form is specific to each individual, although we adhere to basic mechanical principles, no two runners will have exactly the same form.
- Landing heel first will jar the body excessively (and is almost impossible to do!) however not allowing the heel to touch the ground in a ball-heel grounding action is also an error in form.
- Landing on your forefoot will keep the impact off you heel and reduce muscular damage.
- For runners (not sprinters) a natural stride is the most economical.
- Hands should be relaxed and cupped at all speeds, a clenched fist is a waste of energy.
- The head should be aligned naturally with the upper body, eyes focused a few meters ahead.
So how do we asses our form? You need to be aware of how your body moves as you run. There are a few ways of doing this, have a friend videotape you, get all angles and try different speeds. Run barefoot on the beach and check out your footprints - how do you land? Run fast at the track, accelerate to race pace and focus on what your body does, what happens to your stride, your knee lift, your posture, arms and head angle.
Try using this body focus in a race, at your next 5k concentrate on your body movements, ignore the sights and sounds, don't talk and be only peripherally aware of the other runners.
The purpose of these drills is to figure out any form flaws so you can isolate them and know exactly what you need to work on, good form will maximize your ability to run faster.
Equipment also plays a big part in correct running form, make sure you have the right shoe for your foot, get properly fitted at your local running or multisport store .
For more form information check out Hal Higdon's book Run Fast, and the Newton Running website.