How many articles have you seen in the last week about how to improve your running? If I saw one, I saw fifty. One of those was an article that I wrote myself!
These articles are great to tell you WHAT to do. I want to talk about WHY you as an INDIVIDUAL should do it, HOW you can go about doing it, and then WHAT to do.
For this article, the WHY is the thing about your running that you want to change. (We will spend most of this post talking about ways to figure this out.) The HOW relates to the way you want to change it, i.e. strength training, stretching, or running plan modifications. The WHAT comes down to exercise or plan selection. (See Figure 1 below)
At the end of the “Secret to Great Running”” I told you that we would help you take your secret to the next level.
The way to do that is to figure out some specific things that you need to work on.
Runners are poor judges of their own technique. One study showed that 1/3 people identified himself or herself as mid/forefoot strikers when they were rear foot strikers1.
I would highly recommend that you get evaluated by a professional, but this is not always available and often pricey. In this post I want to cover 3 great ways to do a self check on your running form.
Seeing is believing! Watching yourself run can make it much easier to improve.
If you can get a friend to video tape you running, that is the easiest way. You can also do a little McGyver action and tape yourself. I used low price tripod and iPhone adapter from amazon.
Check out the figure below for some quick tips on how to tape yourself (or a friend) running.
There are a few things that you can do to magnify running form. One of my favorite is to have hold a paper towel roll (or similar size object) in each hand while you run
The arms are a window into your overall form. A runner who’s legs cross the mid line or collapse inwards will have an arm swing that matches. If you find yourself smacking your face or hitting the opposite shoulder with the paper towel roll, it can tell you a lot about your running.
Using the paper towel roll is also a great way to retrain your gait. If you need to change your arm swing, using the paper towel rolls [external focus of control] makes it easier to know when you are actually making the change that you are intending to.
Check your tech
GPS watches and wearables are getting more advanced every day. Looking at your cadence (the steps you take in a minute) or your vertical oscillation (how much your body moves up and down) are easy ways to check your form.
Choose a device that matches your personality. You can go for the data driven RunScribe, the seriously dedicated Garmin, the complete lifestyle tracker Under Armour Health box, the carefree low cost Milestone Pod, or any number of other devices.
If you plan to change your running form these can also be great resources. More on gait re-training in future blogs and in the running course.
Not sure about how accurate these devices are? I’ve got a Peer-Reviewed article coming out soon. Stay tuned!
Interpret your results
I use a 5-group classification system for running gait inspired by Rich Willy. Once you know what type of runner you are, you can see what types of injuries you may have and how to prevent/fix them.
Check out the 5 groups below and learn more about these in the running course. Share your pics or videos of your own form in the comments below and let us know what type of runner you are!
Your running assessment will show you WHY (or if) you need to change your running. Now you can start to tailor WHAT your workouts are. Go back to your running practice and choose drills and stretches/strengthening that will help your INDIVIDUAL form
Check out what is new with Fat Squirrel Running
- Catch up on past blogs
- We have a logo! (See below, share in the comments what you think)
- Shirts coming soon
- Fat Squirrel Runner Athlete Highlight coming soon
- Goss, D., et al. “Accuracy of self-reported foot strike patterns and loading rates associated with traditional and minimalist running shoes.” American Society of Biomechanics Annual Meeting, Gainesville, FL. 2012.
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