Friday, June 3, 2011

Running and Form, Part Deux

You had some good responses to my post about Running Form, and I thought I’d raise my reply back to the upper level where it’s easier to read.

First of all, Eric mentioned that he first tried to “cure his running woes with technology.” I’d be curious to hear what technology that he used, but from my perspective, it seems to me that running involves two types of technology:1
. Shoes. Not to be discounted! Personally, I need a stable shoe because I pronate and thus need something to prevent my feet from rolling and fucking up my knees. I’m sure there are other ways that shoes could help your form, but that’s the main point I think of.
This could be expanded to include things like the computer chips included in some of the newer shoes out there – Eric could speak more to the Nike technology in particular – but again I’m not sure how this could help form analysis.
2. Watch/timer. Not sure how this would help out form even if we expand it to GPS devices.
Any other technologies that I’m missing?
What may be the answer is missing from this list because it's not a technology. I think that the best way to work on form is to work with another person. In the examples from my original post, the commonality was a coach who not only identified my form issues but also helped me work on and improve them. Having someone work with you to correct imperfections is probably the answer to Eric’s valid question: “what do i do if i've been running WRONG for all these years? just deciding to run with "proper form" (who defines that) isn't going to work, as the legs and leg muscles aren't accustomed to it.” I think it’s an incremental process, and finding a coach/running partner who can guide and experiment with you to find form fixes that work for the runner is a huge factor.

To expand on who defines correct form, I don’t think there’s any single form that will work for everyone. Joel pointed out that Born to Run does “NOT advocate paying attention to particular rules about form. It advocates running joyfully, and listening to your body to determine what is right and wrong.” I agree with this to an extent, but I also think that almost everyone could benefit from tweaks - as long as it works for them. To go back to the story about my arm swing, while my original swing was natural and felt right, and I never would have changed it if someone else hadn’t called me out on it. Changing my running form eventually was the best thing for my body – and enabled me to run faster. Now it wasn’t easy! I needed to start strength training and practice, practice, practice before the new movement came naturally and stuck. But what originally was my natural form was definitely not the best thing for me.

I’m curious to hear more about what you think! As for Born to Run, I’ve heard so much about it, I’m really going to need to pick up a copy. May head over to amazon now...

1 comment:

  1. I also overpronate. Nevertheless, after a time I wanted to get away from stability shoes. What I found, through trial and error, was that I could neutralize many of the side effects of the overpronation by shortening my stride.

    There are, of course, many other reasons why runners might want to pay attention to their stride length. For example, if your foot is landing out way ahead of your body, it is applying a braking force, and you are wasting energy.

    With the right technology, I expect you can measure your stride length - basically the distance you run divided by your cadence. But I'd prefer to just make the adjustments by paying attention to what my body needs.

    And, I totally agree about working with another person! As in other aspects of life, technology is still a pretty poor substitute for human contact.