“Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”
– Vince Lombardi

This has never been truer to me that this weekend when I went back to my running coach. I had taken 18 months off in an attempt to try and ‘do it on my own’ and failed miserably. I knew my muscles were weakened, my endurance diminished but I hadn’t realized how bad my FORM had deteriorated. You see it doesn’t matter if you are fast or slow if your FORM is not right then you will get injured.

So let’s take a brief look at what makes up good-form.

  • First is the toe strike. Many people land mid-foot or even on their heels which can cause the pain in the joint that makes people think running is bad for you, but running isn’t bad for you – heel-striking is. (Now remember this is a blog, it’s opinion so I don’t want to get into any debates if you disagree, please feel free to write your  own blog).  To get yourself used to land on your toes, simply do some calf bounces – some call this “Hopping with Locked Knees” I do it more as a calf bounce. This helps you know where your foot should be hitting the ground.
  • Second, do a few repetitions of high knees. These do not need to be all the way to your waist, but you need to be thinking of lifting from you core NOT your hip. Remember if you use your core to lift your limb it puts less strain on them. A few minutes of calf bouncing that rolls into some high knees or “Lateral Skipping”.
  • Last we need to look at what my form was greatly lacking and that’s the “Butt Kick”, this is was propels you forward and helps you increase your rotation and speed.

Now how do we put it all together — the rotation of your legs should be a circular motion like you’re riding a bike and flow from one to the next? To assist with being certain you landing on your toes, lean forward from your ankles until gravity forces you forward, like a SLINKY – the slinky uses the momentum of gravity to move it down the stairs – using gravity you can propel yourself forward.

Now don’t forget the core. You need to be lifting your legs from you center not from your hip and keep your head up looking out in front and your arms and shoulders loose. Your arms should move with you and not be forces. This is what can cause strains in the back and shoulders.

Now as part of my training this week – I will be work on 100 meters running doing what Coach B refers to as the “Prance”. This is just running with the exaggeration of the knee up, chest pushed out and up and the kick in the butt (as you see in the video on right). This is hard on the calves and the quads so it’s difficult to do for long distances.

SHORT CONTROLLED PRACTICE using PERFECT FORM will reinforce the good running habits. If you try to run too far, too soon, you will begin to reinforce BAD FORM habits that can lead to injury.

I will be posting more of these as my training with Coach B continues. I hope you will continue to join me on my journey and even join me.

If you look at my Facebook page (Run 4 Bacon) you will see daily tips on how to be a better, happier runner!