There is a lot more to running than simply lacing up your shoes and heading out the door. Runners run the gambit from your occasional jogger to competitive ultra marathoners and nearly 80 percent will find themselves injured this year, according to the New York Times. Fitness Formula Clubs (FFC) is working to eliminate that with workshops aimed at improving running form.
FFC offers a training program called TriMonster Endurance, which “provides a variety of small group-focused endurance training programs within a friendly, structured environment.” The program is not exclusively for triathlon training, however, and a number of people have used it for marathon training as well through its extension RunMonster.
I had the opportunity to attend a session with Chris Navin, FFC’s head endurance coach. Chris is also a USA Triathlon Certified Coach with an impressive number of Ironman and race finishes to his name. In the session, he broke down the common form problems that plague runners and offered the following tips to concentrate on when hitting the pavement:
Run with a metronome
The optimal running cadence is approximately 180 steps per minute (SPM). The quicker and smaller your steps, the less bone and joint impact. Running with a faster cadence also helps continue the forward motion of the body and results in faster times.
There are a number of apps that will allow you to set a metronome to your desired steps, or beats, per minute. Think of it like playing a piano but for your feet. You can also check out Spotify’s new running feature to play music at different beats per minute. Concentrate on getting one step for every beat.
Focus on the position of your upper body
When running, you should have a minor forward tilt in order to prevent any drag or postural distortions caused by leaning backwards or arching your back. The tilt should come from your ankles and not your knees.
Try standing tall, locking your knees, then tilting forward from the ankles. You won’t be able to lean forward very far before your heels start to come off the ground. It is minimal, but important to maintain forward progress.
Land with your midfoot
Striking with your heel can be an indication of overstriding (taking too long of a step) and requires much more energy to move your body forward in space. Your foot is landing in front of your body instead of underneath it. Try to take shorter strides (think about your cadence!) and land with your midfoot, or the upper half of your foot. Your heel will still briefly touch the ground, but the majority of the weight should be on the middle to upper part of your foot.
Swing your arms to help propel you forward
Swinging your arms is important to helping you move forward, but if done incorrectly can actually hinder your performance. When moving your arms, they should be bent at 90 degrees, close to your body, and your hand should travel in a line from your hips to your upper chest (think hips to nips!).
Also make sure when you are running that your arms do not cross the midline of your body. When your arms cross your midline it means that your body is twisting, which can lead to further twisting of the hips and overall postural distortions that can contribute to injury with repeated running.
The next time you are out for a run, think about these form corrections. Pick one and concentrate on improving your form. For more tips or to inquire about FFC’s training programs, send an email to [email protected]. Happy trails!