Improving your running technique is a great way to improve your times and reduce the chances of injury. We at aat events work closely with Synergy Running and Movement Centre. In a nutshell this is what they can do to your running technique – “It’s phenomenal”says Toby Jenkins. So, you’ve had your swimming technique lessons, which have helped you to move efficiently through the water; you’ve had your bike setup tweaked to ensure you’re producing maximum power and not leaving yourself susceptible to injury. Have you ever thought about your running technique? Running is often neglected from a technical point of view in training, either because athletes believe it can’t be changed or that it shouldn’t be changed, despite studies showing that running accounts for up to 70% of all injuries in triathlons (McHardy et al 2006). Synergy Running and Movement Centre has shown that great gains can be achieved when time is spent improving the efficiency of your running.
Areas to concentrate on
Arms The more work your arms do, the less the legs have to. This is especially true when going uphill or when you need to pick up your pace. Importantly the arms need to swing square to your body and not come across in front. The elbows should be locked at 90 degrees for the greatest momentum gains.
Legs The legs should produce a good ‘cycle’ with a good heel lift and then come down under your body – not stretched out in front as this wastes energy and increases the impact experienced by the body. Some people will be a heel/toe runner (heel touches first), some a mid-foot (land with a flat foot) and others fore-foot (land on the ball of the foot). This is individual and each has their own advantages.
Pelvis This should be fairly level as you run without too much movement up and down. People often allow the hip to drop and rotate excessively; this can cause people to run on a midline rather than with the foot landing under each hip. Core and pelvic control work will help this.
Synergy Running and Movement Centre say all adult runners fall loosely into seven categories:
Thumper: You hear them before seeing them – far too much impact on the ground. Having to absorb impact and then re-acceleration makes this an inefficient style. Raised injury risk due to increase in impact forces. Tip: try softening your stride!
Twister: Energy is wasted by allowing too much rotation in the upper and lower body. Reduces linear speed and puts extra strain on structures such as ITB and spine. Tip: Get the arms moving squarely (as above) – this in turn will help out the legs.
Octopus: Mainly inexperienced or very fatigued runners where limbs move in different directions. Energy is wasted in every direction and increased risk of injury in a number of structures. Tip: Core stability work will help.
Weekend Warriors: Concentrating so hard on how little time they have to train, they forget to use the arms and hold tension throughout the shoulders. Extra work for the legs leaves the runner prone to hamstring pulls and buttock muscle tension and weakness. Style is inefficient as the powerhouse isn’t being used, i.e. arms. Tip: Relax the shoulders and feel the benefit of using the arms.
Shuffler: Most common running style. They run as though wearing slippers with very little heel lift. This causes poor recruitment of gluteal and hamstring muscles and puts extra strain on impact. Tip: Practice picking up the heels.
Bouncer: Big strides causing excessive up and down movement as well as big impacts. This wastes energy and the extra impact leaves structures such as the Achilles, calves and knees struggling to cope. Tip: Increase cadence and shorten stride.
Slow Runner: Someone who runs so slowly they would put their body through less strain if they walked and still achieve the same speed. Tip: Try power walking, then intervals of 1 minute running with an emphasis on relaxing and letting the limbs swing. Kids have their own category altogether!
Synergy Running and Movement Centre is an established company that has been working with runners and triathletes for years helping them achieve their speed and fitness goals. They work with anyone from the age of 8. Their methodology helps occasional and recreational runners to professional athletes. Regardless of your level, coaching starts by first assessing your running technique using video analysis software. This gives a good idea of how your running style needs to be tweaked. They then perform a full ‘Movement Screening’ which helps work out where any weaknesses are hiding. Following this they coach you to address the tweaks needed in your technique to reduce the strain on the body from habits such as over-striding or poor use of the arms. By making the most of the momentum produced by an efficient style, overall speed increase is achieved. The coaching techniques they use are unique. They believe that everyone runs differently as there is no one way of running that suits all. However, in changing an athlete’s technique huge gains in performance and a reduction of the chances of injury is attained.