Kenyan Olympic Runners: Technique Observations

Nov 22, 2012   //   by James Dunne   //   Biomechanics & Running Technique  //  5 Comments  //  Affiliate Disclosure  

Kinetic Revolution Meets Team Kenya

Prior to the London 2012 Olympic Games, Kinetic Revolution Coach Neil Scholes spent time with the Kenyan Olympic Team at their holding camp in Bristol.

During the time spent with these exceptional athletes, Neil collected a great deal of running footage, working with the team coaches to offer technique observations for future reference.

For this blog post, Neil has slowed the frame-rate of some of the footage, and added his commentary to share some interesting observations about the running forms of these athletes.

Please Note: 

Due to the nature of filming in-session with a group like this, the footage (camera angles in particular) is not of the usual quality we achieve in a full-on running analysis.

Thus, we approached this commentary more as a set of technique observations, rather than full analysis, as we can’t clearly see some of the finer movements, especially at foot level.

The Athletes

The clip above shows the following athletes running a 200m rep at close to 25sec pace.

  • Mark Mutai Commonwealth Games 400m Gold Medalist (Black T-Shirt)
  • Vincent Kosgei 400m Hurdles (White T-Shirt)
  • Maureen Chelagat 400m Hurdles (Red T-Shirt)
  • Joyce Sakari 400m (White T-Shirt)

Follow-up Correspondence

“As a follow-up to the ideas we shared in Bristol, I have given attention to the young athletes in schools inorder to establish good running mechanics in good time. It’s harder to correct anomalies when they are more mature.

The results have been very inspiring in a very short space of time; one of the junior boys ran a sub 14min 5000m barefoot and the girl did 9:32 in the 3000m which are P.Bs. The junior sprinter has run 49secs 400m barefoot. I have been able to get him spikes and believe when he gets used to them, he will be able to post 21secs in the 200m.

Stay intouch and lets explore the opportunities together.”

Bruce Kilulai – Kenyan Olympic Coach

From Facebook & Twitter

We posted a raw (no commentary) version of the footage on to Facebook and Twitter, and asked our friends to share their impressions from a technique and biomechanical perspective.

Here’s one of the initial responses we received…

Matt Phillips Facebook Comment

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below…

About The Author

James has an academic background in Sport Rehabilitation and a special interest in Applied Biomechanics. He currently coaches a large number of Runners and Triathletes across all levels of ability and performance. He's grown a strong reputation for enabling athletes to improve their running performance and overcome running injuries through improving their Running Technique and developing Running Specific Strength.

 

Facebook Comments

5 Comments

  • Great analysis, particularly interesting what was highlighted on Maureen. I spotted the external rotation on her right foot and noted her higher degree of STJ pronation, but in the process missed the upper body rotation (a reminder not to become too focussed on the obvious and always consider the rest of the body!). Out of interest, are you aware if Maureen does suffer from any reoccurring injuries that might result from or add to the differences in her running style? I’m not suggesting a style like hers must lead to injury but it would be interesting to compare.

    • Thanks Matt, really appreciate your comments. Of course correlation does not imply causation but I suspect over time that the two have become intrinsically linked. From a coaching perspective I am always looking for what I can actually do to affect a change that leads to a performance benefit hence the look at the whole body, core etc. Maureen did not report any major or previous injury but as we said this was not our usual level of full analysis. I’m hoping to catch up with her in Iten, Kenya in March so I’ll enquire.

      The athlete I’d really like to ask is Priscah Jeptoo, 3rd in London Marathon 2012, 2nd in the Olympic Marathon 2012, not sure if you have seen her run but it’s “interesting”. No doubting her ability though!

      • Most definitely “interesting”… just tweeted footage I found on YouTube:

        “Priscah Jeptoo’s Valgus vector”

    • Thanks for commenting Matt. I find these Kenyan videos fascinating.

      Here’s my take… Clearly it’s important to assess and understand what’s going on at foot-level. That’s where it’s important to have some good guys in the network to refer to if foot specific interventions are needed.

      However from a coaching point of view, we’re not looking to ever directly and consciously change foot movement in terms of pronation / supination and external / internal rotation (wherever the rotation originates). I find that focusing on these sorts of issues and trying to consciously change them can open a biomechanical ‘can of worms’!

      Instead, by getting everything above the foot in good order, foot loading will be affected as a consequence, usually for the better (e.g. improving pelvic position and cadence to reduce over striding and thus reduce contact time – changing loading characteristics into pronation for example).

      We as coaches should focus on putting everything above the foot in good alignment in all three planes, at any given point in the gait cycle – and make sure that improved muscle balance is achieved.

      The sign of a good coach is knowing what to work on, and what to leave well alone!

      As for Jeptoo. She’s a great example of what I just said…

      Sure, if not already on a targeted strengthening programme to improve hip control top-down, she should be! But I’d stop short of trying to ‘consciously correct’ what we see from hip down in the video.

      I’m not sure of her injury history, but she seems to be doing ok performance-wise!

      I’m going to throw a huge generalisation out there: If we saw this type of knee valgus position in most recreational runners completing even moderate weekly milage, we’d be greeted with a story of significant injury history.

      I wonder… In Jeptoo’s case, perhaps a combination of a reasonably short contact time, and her not-excessive over stride helps to keep the load going through the dysfunctional knee position to a manageable degree. Helped by the fact the weighs next-to-nothing!

      In comparison, take the average recreational runner; cadence slower than optimum, over striding, increased contact (and thus loading) time and carrying a little weight… this increased force going through an equally dysfunctional knee would be recipe for knee and lower leg related disaster.

      Just my thoughts, feel free to pick them apart!

  • […] During the time spent with these exceptional athletes, Neil collected a great deal of running footage, working with the team coaches to offer technique observations for future reference. Full Article HERE […]

Leave a comment. Ask us a question...