I went to a running class on Saturday held by the Naperville Running Company. This was one of the first local stores I found when I moved out here that I was really happy to find. There are some gems even in the suburbs.
The class was about Good Running Form. They dissected the importance of landing on your mid-foot. I’ve read a bit about this before online and in magazines but had not fully understood it. New Balance has a good site explaining the form. For now watch this video then the rest of this post might make more sense.
It is the antithesis striking the ground with your heel. I’ve known I have poor form and heel strike for a while, it is probably why I’ve routinely felt injured. Striking with your heel makes for harder impacts that travel directly up your leg and joints. Moving the impact region further forward on your foot is supposed to absorb the energy better. Striking with your mid-foot is the form most people will naturally take on when running barefoot. Yet, barefoot running can be a shock to the system and is not recommended for high mileage or to be done multiple times a week.
They break the form down to posture, mid-foot strike, cadence, and lean. They are all related, but working on a single element at a time should help the along the way.
When I went for a run after the class later that day, I focused on my posture, by re-aligning every few minutes (posture), and keeping my cadence up. Focusing on posture is always helpful for me, it’s like a bit of yoga mid run. Keeping my cadence up forced me into a shorter stride, which felt like I moved my foot strike more into my mid-foot. It’s hard to stretch your foot way out front when your turning over at 180 BMP. For reference here’s an mp3 of what that cadence sounds like.
I’ve traditionally have had a slower cadence, probably around 155 BPM. By the end of my run I was comfortably running at 176 BPM. They say to aim for 180 BPM.
I’m hoping that focusing on my form will turn into a healthier injury free running season. When I was around mile 7 or 10 of the Detroit Half Marathon in 2009, I could feel my right calf tighten and knee throb more than usual. I don’t think I really ever recovered. The last two years have been hard to keep a consistent running schedule. This last summer was particularly bad. So for this winter I’ve been working on injury prevention. Running much less, doing some weight and core strengthening. I think this class will be the final step toward getting back in a really good training schedule. Fingers crossed and I’ll sign up for a big fall race.