Last week I uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel, comparing the running techniques of two age group triathletes I work with here in the UK.
When observing and assessing running form, I always like to see what happens when the athlete is running under fatigue. This shows a far more insightful view of how an athlete’s biomechanics begin to break down as the body is placed under duress. Much like on race day, or during a long run.
This footage is no different – I filmed Andy and James spontaneously during the last quarter of our Monday morning Oregon Circuits session – a tough workout to say the least!
The reason why I decided to film these two is the distinctly contrasting running styles that they display, at what was a reasonably similar pace.
Which Does Your Running More Resemble?
As you watch the video and consider the differences between the two athletes, ask your self the question: which am I more like?
Many of the differences in form originate from how the hip/pelvic region, a natural cross-roads in the body. As I say in the video (a quote I often use) – “the foot can only go where the leg puts it”! Given the cyclical nature of running biomechanics, the way the foot initially contacts the ground is dictated by the way the leg swings through under the body immediately prior to the foot meeting the ground.
With Andy, the athlete in the Yellow t-shirt, we can see that the swing leg is pulled up into a position where the knee and hip are both deeply flexed as the foot passes under the hip during swing phase. In comparison, at the same point in gait, James runs with a long swinging leg with less knee and hip flexion. This long lever acts in a similar way as a long pendulum, both swinging slower than a shorter pendulum would, and requiring more torque from the hip flexors to pull it forwards through swing phase. This places greater demands on the hip flexors who have a tendency to become dominant within the movement and sometimes get tight.
With this tightness in the hip flexors, we often see the posture that James displays – anteriorly rotated at the pelvis and ‘sitting back’ as he runs – essentially sticking his butt out behind him and arching through the lower back to remain upright in the torso.
Not until we can improve pelvic position, through lots of hip flexor stretching and glute activation and conscious cues around ‘holding the hips high’ and improving the flexion pattern of the swing leg, will we see a noticeable change in James’ posture and where his foot strikes the ground.
As a simple goal, we’ll be looking to get his foot to a position where it is making contact with the ground under a flexing knee, rather that ahead or a more extended knee as it is at present. This is easiest achieved by bringing the hips and pelvis forwards, and this the center of mass in general.
For more information about running form, take a look at our Online Running Technique Course (50% Discount – Click Here).