I have always been interested in the bio-mechanics of human movement, and being a Coach and an "athlete", I am always very aware of the way in which the athletic body is being made to move.

I am still not 100% convinced that for every athletic action, there is a perfect technique, that if attained, will result in the perfect performance. With so many different human anatomies, I do not believe there can be one perfect technique that fits us all.

Instead, I am of the opinion that there are certain parameters into which perfect technique fits in.

Instead of having an absolute value for the angle the thigh should be raised to during the Recovery phase, I believe that as long as there is some dynamic hip flexion, we are heading in the right direction.

I want to take this theory and apply it to 7 components of running technique, that can greatly help to improve your running economy, reduce the incidence of running injuries, and generally make running your running more enjoyable.
Remember - human beings are only able to learn 3 new skills at a time, so don't try to implement all 7 at once.

1: Practice running:
This means really engaging your mind while you are running, and paying close attention the prompts we will b discussing below.

Remember this line: Perfect practice makes perfect!

2: Relax and breath rhythmically:
Use your breathing to help you to: a) get into a smooth running rhythm b) keep your body relaxed (thus conserving energy).

3: Keep your postural alignment:
  • keep the head looking straight ahead
  • the shoulders should be back, down and relaxed
  • the arms close to the sides with the elbows bent to 90 degrees
  • the hands in a relaxed fist (not clenched tight)
  • a small forward lean
4: Use the arms and the legs:
The arms and the legs work as a unit to produce the necessary energy for forward movement. So many runners have "lazy arms and legs" when they run, leading to poor running economy, and a huge waste of energy.

5: The Glutes are stronger than the Hamstrings:
This is a continuation of the point 4, meaning that the Gluteus Maximus muscle is capable of generating way more power than the Hamstring group. To be able to tap into this powerful muscle, you need to work on maximizing hip extension in the Drive Phase of the stride.

6: Keep vertical movement to a minimum:
Obviously there will be a certain degree of vertical displacement, but the goal of running is to move forward, not up and down. A slight forward bend at trunk, will not only help you run more horizontally, but will save energy by taking advantage of Gravity acting on your body.

7: Reduce your stride length and increase your foot cadence:
A shortening of your stride length and an increased foot cadence will limit the amount of decelleration taking place when the foot makes contact with the ground. This translates into less energy expenditure because you do not have to re-accellerate to move over the foot as you try to keep moving forward. Never mind the reduction in injury causing forces coursing up the leg into the hips and spine.

These 7 points might seem extremely obvious - perhaps because they are. Take them, apply them, practice them and think about them.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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