A little running technique tutorial

As mentioned at the AGM we now have individual coaches looking after 12 week blocks of training for the different triathlon disciplines. Stuart has planned our Sunday run sessions. I have planned our Tuesday run sessions. We have collaborated on both so our sessions will be complementary. 

Our first four week block will focus on developing the propulsive phase of running. One key element to this is the activation of large muscles that will propel us forwards namely the gluteal muscles, the hamstring muscles and the calf and in particular the gastrocnemius (the calf muscle that makes up the bulk of the upper calf). There are of course may other muscles, equally important, that play various roles during the propulsive phase of running for example the quadriceps, the muscles of the trunk and we must not forget the role of the upper limb musculature either.

I have posted this video before. Take a look at this training session with Alberto Salazar coaching Galen Rupp. Alberto is Mo Farah’s coach and Galen is the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 10km. It gives an interesting insight into Alberto’s coaching methods and philosophy and I think it is worth watching Galen’s running form. The fact that he is topless means we can also see how the trunk and upper limb musculature contributes to the running action. If you look at the footnotes you will see he is running very quickly. This is useful because it tends to exaggerate all the aspects of technique we are looking at.

So what are we looking for to maximise the propulsive phase of our running? Firstly, the propulsive phase should begin soon after initial contact with the ground. If the foot lands too far in front of the centre of gravity there will be considerable braking forces and deceleration of the body before acceleration can then begin. So where the foot lands is important in preparation for effective propulsion.

A little interlude. It’s quite a heavy topic. I love this slow motion video of Kilian Jornet. His incredible balance while running on some extreme terrain is amazing!

Ground contact is very short and while the foot is in contact with the ground, propulsion is driven from the hip (gluteals and hamstring) predominantly. Hip flexibility and strength is therefore vital. Notice the upright trunk. There is no excessive forward lean or breaking at the hips. A lot has been made of running with a forward lean recently. This is useful when running up hill but I’m not so sure it should be emphasised when running over flat ground.

Lastly notice the arm action. While the forward swing of the arm is often emphasised, when we are talking about the propulsive phase of running it is the rearward swing of the arm that is most important. This links some of the upper limb and trunk musculature, such as the latissimus dorsi (lats for short) to the action of the leg in contact with the ground.

So over the next few weeks we will work on drills to improve the propulsive phase of running. If you are running this Tuesday please meet at Mile End Park Leisure Centre at 7pm. We will be using the athletics track and will be doing the session in the video you have just been watching. It is £2.90 to enter the track. Please note the entrance is off Rhodeswell Road. 

So that’s it from me. See you Tuesday at the track for a floodlit track workout. Have a great week.

Tim (LFTC Coach)

3 responses to “A little running technique tutorial

  1. This is a great blog Tim. Especially the information about the specifics of the propulsion phase of running-glutes, hams, gastroc and lats. I also enjoyed hearing Alberto Salazar talking about his training method. considering the athletes current energy level for the given workout, and building strength synonomously with flexiblity. I’m sorry to miss this session. It looks great.
    Kilian descends this mountain as if he were on ski’s, how beautiful to watch!

  2. Excited to get on the track tomorrow! Prob best not to run topless, pretty cold out there. Set looks good..hard but good!

    I like to think we will look like Kilian when Devon comes around next month…heres hoping!

  3. Tim,

    A very interesting blog…and feeling light headed just watching Galen Rupp train. How thoughful of you to allow the lads to train topless this evening so we can view the full extent of the technique required! A session that will certainly let me know how much more I need to do.

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