What a great turnout for the first night of the Walk-to-Run group! 40 of you made the toughest decision of the program…TO SHOW UP. We can’t say how excited we are to help in any way possible to either get you started on running, get you back in to running, or simply get you active and on a path to health and fitness.
Today we want to address a question that was brought up more than once on night one, “what is the best way to run?”
Most importantly, let me start by saying there is not one specific running style that is going to fit every single runner, guarantee the best performance, or promise pain free running. However, in our work at NSS we have found a few common threads that have seemed to work for a majority of our clients over the years.
Let’s take a look at a few of them…
It’s is pretty well accepted that a mid-foot strike is going to be one of the best ways for runners of all shapes, sizes and abilities to be efficient with their stride. The mid-foot is the area of your foot, generally speaking, from the ball of your foot to where the heel begins (arch). The illustration above gives a good visual of the different types of foot strikes and will allow you to start to grasp the concept of a mid-foot strike versus a fore-foot or heel strike.
Benefits of the mid-foot strike include a reduction in landing force on the body, a decreased “braking” component (you actually decelerate forward momentum if you are landing on your heels), and most likely an increased running cadence (amount of foot contacts in a specific distance), which can be a way to increase speed.
With that being said, we would like to give you 2 simple drills that will help you start to hone your specific running skills – yes, running is a skill!
The first is concerned specifically with the foot strike mentioned above, and you can see that HERE. In this drill you will be working on balance and stability (components of strength) along with placement of your foot to the ground.
The second drill looks further up the chain (because everything is connected) and is focused around your glute muscles in the hip. These are extremely important in control and coordination of everything from the hip down the leg. Strength and efficiency of this area will do nothing but help your ability and running skill.
Think of this area as your “muscular motor”, where the energy is created, and then transferred down through the knee, ankle and foot (your "wheels") and ultimately applied to the ground.
This single leg balance drill will work on stability around the hip, which will help to control knee and ankle movement, allowing you to perform the mid-foot strike run stride with greater ease and effectiveness.
So give these two drills a try, either as part of your warm-up, as a piece of your other strength training, or simply around the house when you have a few free moments.
A way to incorporate this during your runs is to take small periods of time, or distance, and really start to create the “mind to muscle” connection from the brain to the legs.
During these periods of skill practice, begin to consider what the hips role is in concern to running stride and skill, as well as how the foot is landing.
Since it will be more difficult initially, don’t expect yourself to practice run skill the entire duration of a training run. Rather, choose a landmark up the road or practice for 10-30 seconds, and then let your brain drift off somewhere else for a while. This way you allow yourself focused and precise amounts of practice on technique and form. The other time spent not as focused on the skill development is time for you to build up muscular endurance and aerobic capacity.
Again, great job to everyone who took part in the first run of the Walk-to-Run. We really appreciate the questions as well, so if you have certain ones we would love to hear them (because someone else probably has the same one)!
Also remember, everyone is welcome, so please, if you enjoyed the group, bring a friend or family member along next time.