The arrival of spring also means the start of running season and re-emergence of runs and races in British Columbia. Whether you’re a competitive runner, or a casual runner just looking to tackle a fitness goal, there is a run for practically every level.
Keeping that in mind, I want to share three of my own tips for taking your running technique to the next level.
Tip #1: Work on your cadence
Cadence is the number of times your foot strikes the ground in a given time period, usually measured per minute. Because forward movement only happens when your feet strike the ground, it’s crucial that you get them off the ground as quickly as possible.
A common problem for runners is ‘running loud’. It can be the cause of a couple of things: heel striking, too much flight, stomping, etc. No matter what the cause is, here's where I would start in correcting it:
- Download a metronome app onto your phone. There are plenty currently on the market, with many of them being free.
- Run on the treadmill at your "normal pace" for 1 minute
- Count the number of times your right foot hits the ground, and double it to determine total foot strikes per minute
- To confirm your foot strikes per minute number, repeat steps 2 & 3.
- Add 10% to that number, and set the metronome app to this number with a dominant four count (i.e. beep beep beep BEEP, beep, beep, beep, BEEP)
- Run at the pace of the metronome. You may need to increase the speed of the treadmill.
How does this make you run quieter / softer / better?
It reduces your flight by requiring you to run with a shorter gait. For distance runners, the shorter gait actually helps you run faster. It should also reduce injury or risk of injury.
Tip #2: Practice, practice, practice!
Getting used to this new style may take several weeks. I recommend warming up for 10 minutes, then running at the metronome pace for 10 minutes to start. Gradually, you can work your way up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. For consistency, I find its best to do this on a treadmill.
You'll want to stretch your calves a little extra as you transition. I recommend working trigger point therapy into your routine because it helps restore and maintain a natural ease of movement by targeting tight muscles. For advice on what types of equipment to use (foam rollers, massage balls, etc.) and the types of exercises to perform with them, ask a member of the Personal Training team at your local club.
Tip #3: Consistency is key
You might "feel" weird or that you should be taking longer strides. If you fatigue while you are running, don't think about extending the stride or running harder. Instead, just try to turn your legs over faster. This enables you to maintain pace and even accelerate. More foot strikes = more propulsion.
Best of luck with your training!
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