A month to go before the ballot results for the London Marathon 2020... The number of people attending the clinic in view of preparing for the race will steadily increase over the next few weeks. Following on our ‘Preparation for Race Day’ blog series, let's talk about how paying attention to your running style may change the way you face-up to the tarmac.
Below we ignore the complex language given to patients at times. We also skirt around the need for running analysis and a treadmill assessment (Pssst. You can get both done in our Sports MOT). This article aims to use easy-to-understand prompts and instructions to help you improve your style and improve your performance. If you are still struggling with recurrent injuries, difficulty progressing distance or pace or you have a new onset of pain that can’t wait then either BOOK IN to see us on our or drop us line at email@example.com
Despite my hero Michael Johnson (former 400 metre World Record Holder) defying all logic and practically running whilst leaning backwards, I recommend running with a slight forwards tilt. This is really hard to get use to initially and it will just feel weird. The next time you are in a free space and warmed up try to practice this until you get confident with the technique and the way of running.
How to do this: Standing with feet hip width apart, slowly imagine you are falling forwards and you will tip towards the ground (timber!). One leg will step out in front almost catching yourself, but try to keep the momentum going. You will feel like you are constantly falling forwards. Don’t worry, you are! However, by using a forwards tilt you are using gravity in your favour and have already made things more efficient.
[You may have already corrected your over-stride with that first trick.]
If you plan on moving forwards then it does not make sense to strike the ground with your leading leg out in front of your body. Not only does the ground reaction forces slow you down but there is potentially more velocity and momentum for your muscles to try to control. This can ultimately lead to some injuries or at very least earlier fatigue and poorer performance. My advice is for your foot to hit the floor underneath your body.
Advanced tip: Any mid-long distance runner should work on soleus strength and eccentric leg strength.
Propel with power.
Our biggest muscle [gluteus maximus] and strongest muscle complex [calf] are all behind us. Let’s use them in the most efficient way possible. By leaning forwards you have given them more range of motion to work at an optimal position in propelling you forwards. These muscles are not great at pulling you around but they will spring you forwards with a great push.
Advanced tip: If in the gym, work on hip flexor length and split squat strength along-side explosive calf strengthening with jumping and plyometric based exercises.
A great training tip. Not the most scientific terminology but it is something that has stuck with me from previous youth coaches. I would imagine all of us want to become stronger, more controlled and prevent injuries. If you notice that you are a loud or heavy runner then I would like you to take in back 25% and attempt to run as quietly as possible without changing the way that you run. You are demonstrating to yourself you have great eccentric control and your muscles have the abilities to absorb loads. It will also be obvious when you start to fatigue as you will be stomping about. This may save you from many tendon issues in the lower limbs and lumbar spine flare-ups.
PS: Race day is race day. Run at your practiced, comfortable pace and style.
Run with your arms.
Exactly what it says. Your arms can be used with great effect in driving you forwards as well as sometimes being a tell-tail sign of biomechanical deficiencies. It is very difficult to relax your shoulders and use them powerfully at the same time. Don’t tense up. Think about pulling your shoulder blades away from your ears slightly, chest out and gradually incorporate their use.
Advanced tip: You may want to spend some time practicing some basic ‘scapular setting’ exercises to recruit the important muscles involved. This can be at your desk or as an exercise program itself.
Advanced tip 2: When performing box jumps and other explosive training exercises, don’t forget to strengthen your shoulder flexors and use your arms to force a higher, maximal jump]
Perhaps just take 2 tips per week until you feel confident.
Gone are the days of dragging yourself around. Today is the day you attack the pavement with efficiency!
Hopefully you've found the tips above useful. If you think that you may need some more specific treatment or have picked up an injury do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice or book in to a Physiotherapy Assessment or Coaching session.