Let’s talk about form

Part 2 in a series on form

Ok Bubbah, you’ve been patient .  Now I want to fill in the details .

Before I start out, let me say one thing; if you’re getting out and running and enjoying yourself then don’t obsess about form.  If it’s working for you, hey, that’s perfect.  I don’t mean to form-shame anyone.  I certainly don’t have perfect form. 

But, if you want to learn more form.  Let’s talk. 

I always worry about this because it is so holistic.  There are so many moving pieces – it s like juggling octopi. 

But – we will progress.  The other point worth mentioning is there are a bunch of interconnected movements here and there is really no precedence in what sequence to work them.  Most coaches start with foot strike and posture, so that’s where we are going to start. 

Foot strike – This is when, where and how often your foot hits the ground.  Let’s talk about ‘how often’.

Cadence: In your running form there is a certain frequency to your foot strike.  It is 180 hits per minute.  That’s the magic number.  That’s the cadence.  Plus or minus 2 hits per minute. 

Like everything else that may vary slightly from runner to runner, but overall this number is pretty solid.  When I count my cadence it is usually a bit low, in the 170’s.  When I’m doing speed work it might be a bit fast.  Uphill, downhill, it varies, but somewhere around 180 is a good number.

Bump   Bump    Bump   That’s the cadence.  Burn it in.  Bump   Bump   Bump

There are different ways to count your cadence.  Newer GPS watches come with a foot-pod accessory that you can stick in your shoe and it will count your cadence for you as part of the data. 

The easy way is to just look at your watch, or phone, note the time and count each time your right or left foot hits the ground. At the end of the minute multiply that by 2. There’s your cadence.

There is also a ton of music you can get, and even a metronome app that will give you a 180 count you can practice with. 

When you first time your cadence you’ll typically find that you are too slow.  It’s seldom too fast. The reason your cadence is too slow is because you are over-striding. What does that mean?  It means you’re reaching out too far in front with your leading foot and dwelling too long in the transition.

Which is a nice segue into next bit of running form in the foot strike itself.  

You want to pull your form upright and forward so that your center of gravity is slightly forward of your foot strike. 

Your center of gravity should be slightly forward of your foot strike. 

Where is your center of gravity? It’s in your core.   In your torso.  You want to push that center of gravity out in front of you so that you are falling forward.  You are falling and you are catching yourself as you are falling. 

The way you push your center of gravity forward is by pushing your hips forward.    Imagine that there is a rope tied to your belly button and it is pulling you forward.  Push those hips forward.   Move that torso so it is falling forward. 

Then your feet have to keep up with that forward fall.  This almost forces you to land on the forefoot.  That space right behind the toes.  You feel the foot hit the ground, but since you are falling you flow through that foot strike and kick it up behind.

Fast, hot feet.  Bump bump  bump.

No lingering on the foot strike.  Bump bump bump.

A great mantra here is “Light Feet” or “Run Lightly” this will remind you to loosen up, run tall and maintain fast cadence.

Fall through the foot strike.  

Push those hips forward. 

Move those feet quickly. 

Bump bump bump.

Think about your torso.   When your hips are pushed forward that automatically straightens up your posture.

You should be, in the words of running coaches “Running tall”. 

Don’t slump forward. Straighten up your shoulders.  High and square.  Light and relaxed. 

Let all that tension release out of your back and shoulders. 

It’s all being pulled along by the hips. 

Bring your head up.  Look forward.  Relax your chin.  Smile.   Breathe.  In through the nose.  Out through the mouth.  

What do you do with your hands?

Bring your hands up lightly to your chest.  Elbows at 90 degrees and slightly pushed back behind you.  Straight back and forward in rhythm with your quick stride. 

Hold your hands lightly and open, high and close to your chest. 

Quiet your arms and hands. 

Don’t swing or pump.  Just quiet.  High and quiet.  light and quiet.

Bump Bump Bump. 

In your mind imagine a string that runs down your spine and pulls you upright.  Though the top of your head.  Run tall.  Hips forward.

Bump Bump bump. 

Forefoot strike.

Hot feet.

Bump Bump Bump. 

Light feet.

Fast feet. 

Tall and strong. 

Relax into this form. 

Tall and strong. 

When you get into the right spot there is no wasted energy.  There is no pushing off.  You are falling easily down the trails with you light, fast, feet catching you. 

That’s good running form. 

Next time we’ll talk about some of the “Why do you care?” moments for running form.  Like in races. 

Last time I asked you to look at the form of good runners and make a mental note of what that looks like.  I also asked you to have someone video your own form so you can see the difference. 

This week I’m going to ask you to pay attention when you’re out running with other people.  If you have a running group take a look at the various ways people run. 

Better yet, if you are in or watching a race watch what happens to people’s form at the end. When they get tired what happens?

This is fun right?


Direct download: 4413-Form.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 7:38pm EDT





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