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Run Training

Natural Running

In designing our training programs we have done a great deal of research on all facets of triathlon training. Our research on running has included relatively new “branded” running systems including Chi-Running, POSE Method, Evolution running, and many other technique oriented programs including training from the National TNT Triathlon Coach Dave Scott, and USA Triathlon National Coach Bobby McGee. Also, we are Certified Newton Natural Running Form Instructors.  There are several interesting conclusions that we have drawn from all this research including that most of these “branded” systems are more similar than different, and running technique is very important for endurance sports. 

For many years, and almost as a cliché, African runners have dominated distance running at its highest levels. There has been a great deal of research done to determine what makes these runners consistently faster. Research has demonstrated that they have normal VO2 Max and Lactate threshold levels for elite runners.  Their height, weight, and limb-length ratios all fall into the normal category.  What does set the great African runners apart is that they are more efficient (better technique) than their competitors, running faster without expending more energy.  Many experts in running economy suggest that running barefoot through childhood contributes significantly to the extraordinary economy of these athletes. If you ran barefoot 12 miles to school every day of your childhood you would naturally develop a "Natural" running technique. We teach the techniques that may be more similar to natural running barefoot, and implement them into your shoe-running technique.   

You may have heard the saying “practice makes perfect” which is a false statement. A more accurate statement would be “perfect practice makes perfect”. Have you ever heard a runner say he was heading to practice?  Probably not, because runners don’t practice, they work out.  All of the emphasis is on building strength (speed) and endurance (distance) and little to no time or resources are devoted to improving efficiency (technique).  Runners who truly want to perform to their potential need to make optimizing technique a high priority in their training.  Improving technique will enable any runner to maximize economy and minimize injuries, two major keys to maximizing performance. 

We believe strongly that adjusting technique can reduce the frequency and severity of injuries dramatically.  By minimizing impact stress, maximizing shock absorption, and distributing the remaining stress optimally, injuries can become rarities.  By minimizing vertical displacement and landing with your foot correctly oriented and in the right position relative to your center-of-mass, impact stress can be drastically reduced.   A runner moving his center-of-mass up and down during running not only wastes energy, but also causes injuries.  The higher the center-of-mass travels during the flight phase, the more velocity it will gain during descent and the greater the impact stress will be. 

Our bodies are designed with built-in shock absorbers.  The muscles and connective tissues of the feet and calves are extremely elastic.  Most runners bypass this shock absorption by allowing their heels to touch the ground.  The heel has almost no shock absorbing capacity.  The heel is made of bone, which is not elastic.  Bone transfers shock very well, and injuries to the ankle, shin, knees, hips, and lower back result.  None of these tissues is designed to absorb impact stress, and the resulting trauma eventually creates an injury.

Posture and Alignment

Look at the illustration and you'll see the "C" shape super-imposed on the subject. If you look at the direction the arrows are pointing, you'll see that the arrows begin at T12/L1 and move in opposite directions. The arrows on the upper section of the "C" shape go up (lengthening the back of the neck) and then down the front side of the head, ending at the chin (which is held down). The lower section of the "C" shape runs down towards the tailbone and then comes back up on the front side of the pelvis, ending at the pubic bone (when leveling the pelvis, you lift up on the pubic bone).

Practice getting yourself into the "C" shape whenever you feel your posture slipping…whether you're sitting at your desk, standing, walking or running. It'll have the amazing effect of bringing your mind and your body together, because you'll be engaging your core in the midst of your activity and bringing yourself to the "center" of your experience.

Your posture is the absolute keystone of all your movement and structural support. When you have strong physical center, it has a direct influence on your mental and emotional well being. Practice your posture as if your quality of life depends on it, because it does.

 

Posture
  • Straighten your upper body with your hands. Look for your shoelaces.
  • Keep your legs vertical, not sloped
  • Do the “vertical crunch”. Lift your pelvis up in front; flatten your lower back slightly
  • Tuck your chin and keep your neck in line with your spine.
  • Use the image of a column-always straight. Connect the dots: shoulders, hips, ankles
  • Feel your feet at the bottom of your column
Lean
  • Keep your column straight at all times
  • Lean from your ankles, with your whole body as one unit.
  • Feel yourself falling forward.
  • Be sure your upper body is in front of your foot strike.
  • Your lean is your gas pedal. To go faster lean more
  • Your upper body is extended out in front while your legs swing out the back.

Legs and arms, Lower body

  • Pick up your feet.
  • Keep your lower legs limp.
  • Swing your legs to the rear.
  • Bend your knees and let your heels float up behind you.
  • Remember, soft foot strike, loose ankles, don’t push off with your toes. Run quietly and lightly, as if you are trying to sneak up on someone.
  • Don’t pronate. Run along a tightrope, leading with your knees.
  • Keep your cadence between 85 and 90 strides per minute.

Legs and arms, Upper body

  • Swing your elbows to the rear, keeping them at a constant right angle.
  • Don’t pump your arms.
  • Don’t cross your centerline with your hands.
  • Relax your hands, as if you are holding an ice cream cone.
  • Keep your shoulders low and relaxed.
  • Use your arm swing to set your cadence.

 


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