Updated: March 29th, 2017

In this video, I want to look at what makes Olympic medalist, four-time Olympian, American record holder, and world-class marathoner Shalane Flanagan such an efficient runner… and give some cues for how you can work on your own running technique to develop a more effective, efficient stride.

I’ll be taking a look at aspects of Shalane’s running technique including running posture, head position, stride angle, arm carriage, stride length and contact pattern – her definite heel strike.

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This clip is from the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston where she won the Women’s race in 2:25:38.

One aspect I particularly want to highlight is the rotation and extension she achieves through her torso, in counter-rotation to the movement of her pelvis.

The rotation of her upper torso is created by the swinging action of her arms, while the rotation of her pelvis is what allows her to create good extension with her rear leg, while driving the knee forwards with the other.

In fact, if we look more closely, it’s the movement of the legs and pelvis that the arms and upper torso are acting to balance-out, in effect creating a dampening mechanism for the rotation. It’s this balance of rotation and counter rotation that creates a net effect of forward motion!

It’s also really interesting to see an elite marathoner noticeably heel striking, in direct contrast to the rhetoric we hear telling us that “all good runners forefoot strike”. That’s simply just not true.

What Shalane does really well, though, is keep the heel strike occurring close to underneath a flexing knee – rather than allowing herself to significantly overstride. It’s the combination of heel strike and overstride that causes problems for so many runners.

How does your running compare?

Don’t forget to subscribe to James’ YouTube channel for more training tips and running workouts.

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