In this episode we talk running form with Jonathan Beverly author of the new book Your Best Stride -How to Optimize Your Natural Running Form to Run Easier, Farther, and Faster–With Fewer Injuries.
The Running Form Episode! -Interview with Jonathan Beverly
Jonathan Beverly is the former editor in chief of Running Times and shoe editor for Runner’s World. He lives in western Nebraska, near the Colorado border, with his wife, Tracy, and son, Landis. He helps coach the high school cross country and track teams and can often be found running the dirt roads and grassy hills of the high plains.
No Such Thing As a Perfect Stride That Fits Everyone
The first chapter of Your Best Stride describes two persistent myths when it comes to running form:
- That there exists a perfect running form that we all should emulate.
- And, however we move is just the way we are–and nothing we do can change that.
So, every person will have a unique stride signature, just like you have a unique voice, but you can improve your form.
In 2012, Brigham Young University biomechanist Iain Hunter, PhD, closely examined the foot strike of runners in the Olympic Trials and found a wide variety in their landing location and angles. Even these, the best runners in the country, running on a track–a perfectly groomed surface conducive to a machine like consistency–differed significantly from one another. (from page 3)
Preferred Motion Path
Benno Nigg, PhD, from the University of Calgary coined the term “preferred motion path” to describe your body’s way of optimizing a running style that uses the least amount of energy, like water flowing to the path of least resistance.
Therefore your body will move in the way most comfortable for your posture, hip flexibility, balance, and core strength.
It’s All in the Hips
Jonathan argues that instead of focusing on our foot landing zone and candace we should instead be focusing on the hips.
“More often than not, I see foot strike as simply being the end result of so many other things that are happening further up the kinetic chain,” says David McHenry, DPT, physical therapist and strength coach for Nike’s Oregon Project. “The foot is really just the end of a big kinetic whip–the leg. Core and hips are where every runner should be starting if they are really concerned with optimizing their form, maximizing their speed, and minimizing injury potential.” (from page 23)
The book provides illustrations of stretches and exercises that improve hip flexibility, balance, and core strength.
Poetry in Motion
Jonathan mentioned the running form of Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele as defying gravity . . . “he accelerated smoothly and effortlessly, on demand, his legs spinning beneath a seemingly weightless body”. Notice how his legs land behind his hips rather than in front of his body. His arms drive backwards with elbows extending behind the body while his posture stays upright.
While 99% of us will never run like an elite, we can take a few lessons from their stride.
- Run Tall – be as upright and balanced as possible
- Elbows Back – this shifts your balance more upright
- Run Soft – avoid a hard foot fall (slapping the ground)
- Body in front -Jonathan says to imagine you are riding a skateboard or scooter. You never land in front and brake, but instead you bring your leg through in a swinging motion, touching down beneath you and then driving straight back.
We hope you enjoy this interview!
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