Running Mechanics

Running Mechanics

         The most important concept for running efficiency is stride rate. Watch any elite level runner and they all hit 90 strides per minute (unless they are running :52 for the last lap of the 10,000m, when they are upwards of 100). That is 90 foot strikes with each foot every minute. If you are taking less you are undoubtably either putting on the brakes or bouncing up and down. There is no exact model when it comes to distance running like there is in sprinting. At a stride rate count of 90 your foot will land beneath your bodies center of gravity. This enables you to push rather than pull. You run faster by lengthening your stride out the back as opposed to reaching with your foot to front.

         In order to check this, Use a countdown timer on your watch. Set it to beeb every 60 seconds. Count foot strikes from beeb to beeb. If you are under 88, try it again on a nice soft grass surface without your shoes, you will hit 90. I am not promoting barefoot running but this is a way to reinforce the new neural pathways. Another method of making this change is that I would have my 9th graders who were under 88 follow me on a real slow, easy run and they would just match my stride. Remember you have been doing this your whole life, you cannot not just change the rhythm immediately. You have to master it slow before you can do it running faster. You will have to work on this all the time in order to change those neurological pathways. A good drill to use is running down a 1% grade for approximately 100m. Here you want to take 95-100 strides per minute. If you mark out (with chalk, tape, etc) your normal stride length and then just raise your stride rate to 95-100 with the same stride length you can work on having real quick feet. Another method I use with young athletes is a speed ladder. It teaches them to have quick, reactive feet.

         Why is it talented elite runners do not seem to get their feet wet when they run through puddles? Because their feet are on the ground for such a short period of time....

         My personal observations while coaching at the Elite Junior Womens Distance Camp at the OTC during our video analysis was that all of the girls at jogging pace looked awkward. They were not very good at running slow. Now these were very talented girls who in a very short time had risen to elite level. WHY?, running slowly, they slowed their cadence to the low 80's. At threshold pace and faster they were all in the 90-92 range all the time. With the exception of a few that had been injured frequently and they were running in the mid 80's all the time. Hence the injuries due to greater ground forces because of over striding. 

         Of course there are all other types of gross deficiencies that may be happening: Foot strike across the center line of the body, arm swing across the center of the body, running on their toes, and leaning forward at the waist to name a few. And all of these would need to be addressed.

         And as the ultimate realization, For the past 5 years my running has been getting slower and slower. Now I am 61, this is going to happen. It’s like dying and paying taxes. After retiring we moved to Colorado at an altitude of 8000’. Now you have to run differently at this altitude. AND, it is usually much slower than at sea level. This summer I was doing a run on the treadmill and decided to count my strides (I was always at 90) and to my amazement I was at 85. In order to slow down for the altitude I had slowed my turnover which not only made me a slower runner but way less efficient. With this now my main training objective, my running is starting to get a bit faster and more efficient with a quicker turnover.

         If there is one thing that can help your running it is getting to that stride rate of 90+ in order to be more efficient, have less injuries and most of all become a better, faster runner.


Running Technique Mental Queues:

         Run tall

         Quick hands

         Quick feet

         Light feet

         Hips forward

         Chin level