Keeping Running Form – Part 3 The Running School

The Running Form Journey

It has been several months since it all became clear. Since I sat down with Nick from The Running School and watched myself back in slow motion. The glaring errors in my running form were there to see in high definition. My over-stride, my lack of rear kick back, my complete lack of glute activation. And since the beginning of my Running School journey, one thing has become clear: maintaining good running form is a habit, not a one-off fix. The results so far have been very impressive.

Why is Running Form Important?

But why is good running form important? We all know that getting a lot of oxygen to the muscles is necessary for any successful distance runner. But what if your body is inefficient at using that oxygen? This is a problem faced by many good but sub-elite runners. They have a great aerobic system, but their body is not efficient at converting this into a useful output. An elite runner can supply their body with a huge amount of oxygen and they also use a small amount of oxygen at a given pace compared to you and me. The result, they run a lot quicker.

An improvement in running form can help improve running economy. It means minimising wasted energy, using the correct muscle groups at the appropriate part of the running cycle and having fast and efficient neuromuscular firing patterns. Ultimately, it means we focus every drop of oxygen for propelling our body forward.

Perhaps most important for our running sanity, good running form helps prevent injuries, by running in the manner we evolved to. By using the correct muscle movements, we can avoid overstressing other parts of our body. We can reduce the likelihood of injury.

The Running School Education

Nick prescribed me with a variety of activation exercises to ensure I was activating the right muscles before a run. The main underused muscle group by myself and most runners are the gluteus maximus. The back side. This huge muscle group should be the primary power source when running. With our sedentary lifestyles, it is often weakened and neglected. Nick also included various strengthening exercises to strengthen those underused muscles. There were everyday things I could do also. Standing up rather than sitting helps prevent hamstring and hip flexor shortening. Standing on one leg whilst doing everyday tasks strengthens and stabilises the muscles associated with running. Try brushing your teeth or washing up standing on one leg. Few exercises are better for strengthening than the one-legged squat. Running is an alternate one-leg exercise after all. The biggest pill I had to swallow from Dr Nick, however, was hill reps. And lots of them.

The Results

After a few initial sessions with Nick, I was seeing a huge improvement. Then life got in the way. Excuses are excuses so I won’t bore you with those. Suffice to say over the next couple of months I ran much less. When I did run however I concentrated on form. Hill reps after an easy run became my main training run.

Six weeks later having run less often and having done little speed work, I decided to see how much fitness I had lost. One mile flat out. I knew my aerobic system was weak, this was going to hurt. Setting off fast, I surprised myself with how strong my stride felt. The first 800 metres felt amazing. I was flying. The second half was less pleasant. My aerobic fitness caught up with me, my heart rate surged and I felt like I was imploding. My only thought was to keep my form. Head up, arms pumping and kick back with the legs. Just like Nick taught me on the treadmill. As I crossed the mile mark, unsure if I was still alive, I checked my watch. A 5 second PB! There was no doubt, this was a victory for running economy. Although my aerobic capacity was weaker, my improved stride length and running economy had prevailed.

Running Form For You…

The Running School has opened my eyes. Not only to what good running form is, but also how important good running from is. Before my first sessions with Nick, I thought I had good running form. I thought that only beginners needed to learn ‘how to run’. I was so wrong. An elite runner I spoke to recently summed up this philosophy when I asked him about his fantastic form: “Do you think this running form comes naturally? I have to work at it constantly”.

Why not go for a FREE initial consultation with the Running School London – City  and see for yourself the improvements you can make. Contact London – City on city@runningschool.co.uk