12.03.2008

General Running Technique

In my opinion, the run is the portion of the triathlon that allows you to make up the most ground. I say this because I think the run is something that many people struggle with. Thus, if you can improve your running technique, you will have a greater advantage over the competition. Below are five steps to becoming a faster, more efficient runner. These were taken from Ken Axford, a USAT Certified Level 1 coach and Head Coach of Fast-Tri Sports.

1. Stride Length & Stride Rate
The most common inefficiency in the average runner is over striding. This is typically visible my a heavy heel strike and a low stride rate. The target stride rate for most age group runners (non-elite/professional) is between 88-90 foot strikes per minute (how many times one foots hits the ground per minute). By targeting this rate (or higher), athletes will often shorten their stride to become more efficient and lessen strain on their joints.

2. Foot Strike
Foot strike is very closely related to stride length and rate. The optimal foot strike is mid foot or in some cases forefoot. A heel strike is the runner's way of putting on the brakes. This is also very hard on hip and knee joints.

3. Arm Movement
Arms are an essential part of running. They provide balance and often additional power. Keep arms close to the body, elbows bent about 90 degrees and do not cross the center line of the body. Keep movements quiet and relaxed.

4. Body Position
Forward lean or lack thereof can play a major part in efficiency. The best general thought is to have while focusing on body position is: "run tall." This means run with your head high, looking 15-30 feet in front of you. Run erect with your shoulders back and arms at your side. A slight forward lean of about 5-6 degrees is often optimal to assist in proper foot strike and cadence.

5. Shoes
This is one of the mot often overlooked, yet essential aspects of running well. Many foot shapes, gait types and stride techniques require many different types of shoes. Buy your shoes from a reputable running specific store that will analyze your foot along with your run technique to offer an optimum shoe. 

Below is an image of running legend Jim Ryun. Click here for an interactive display.

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