Which of These Two Runners Do You Most Resemble?

Jun 16, 2014   //   by James Dunne   //   Biomechanics & Running Technique, Training Videos  //  21 Comments  //  Affiliate Disclosure  

 

Earlier today while coaching our weekly Oregon Circuits session here in Norwich, I used the Ubersense App on my iPhone to capture some interesting running footage. I managed to quickly record some contrasting examples of running technique in two of our regulars.

I wasn’t planning on getting the camera out, but I wanted to post a video commenting on the clear differences in running form between Andy (@ajskiggs) and James (@rideharderuk), both experienced triathletes.

Watching athletes working into significant levels of fatigue, as per this mid-sesison footage, is always a great opportunity to see how technique breaks down as the body is placed under duress.

Watch the video above for my coaching commentary on a number of important running technique flaws and patterns I see daily in runners and triathletes…

For the record: I have done some 1-to-1 running technique coaching with Andy, while James is yet to receive any technique coaching input…

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.

 

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21 Comments

  • Hi James,
    With reference to the footage from behind the runners, showing external hip rotation on James especially.
    How easy is this to change/fix?
    Many thanks
    Paul.

    • Hi Paul,

      It certainly takes some concerted effort over time (I’d suggest a minimum of 6-10 weeks)… but it’s definitely an area you can create positive change.

      Cheers,

      James

  • This is very helpful. I feel like I run similar to James. Besides working on glute medius, how does one increase knee drive and flexion? From doing more drills and consciously thinking about driving the knee higher? My cadence is around 180 steps/min, I just have always ran more like James, rather than Andy who looks more efficient.

    Thank you for your work!

  • Hi James – great article / video as always. You’ve also posted in the past the “Gazelle Versus Gliders” video which shows both running styles can be fast. Will you trying to change James’ style to more of a gazelle, or simply refining the style he’s got? Tips on either of those appreciated!

    • Hi Gerrard,

      Great observation. The biggest take home in this respect when it comes to the Gliders vs Gazelles video, is that the ‘Glider gait’ Todd describes normally displays higher cadence in comparison to the Gazelle at an equivalent pace.

      Working on improving James’ cadence would be a nice way to start, rather than trying to squeeze him into the Gazelle mould with aggressive conscious changes to form.

      At the same time I’ll be working with him to improve pelvic position and range of motion at the hip into extension and internal rotation – particularly with a view to improving his terminal stance position.

      These will be far more achievable changes in the short-term than encouraging him to focus on running more ‘heel to butt’ as we see with Andy – who is far more of a Gazelle (to use Todd’s terminology!).

      Hope that makes sense!

      Cheers,

      James

  • Great article…thank you. Inspires me to keep working at technique and improve.

    • Thanks Anna! Glad you found the video helpful :)

  • James, thank you for this video analysis. I love to run ! As a 42 y.o. mother of 4 (ages 22 to 12) who works a sedentary job , a running coach is not something I’ve felt I had time or money for. Can we say injury injury injury!!! Just the tidbits of information from your website and these neat but practical videos have taught me so much! I won’t be doing an ironman any time soon but I can look forward to running many 5-10 k races and a couple of Tri sprints injury free just by applying some of these strategies that you graciously share! Thank you!!

  • Great video as always. Between these and the 6 week course I am running much better.

    What specific exercises did you work with James on to get that much of an improvement in such a short time. Also do you have any cues that make for good reminders when form starts to go away as fatigue sets in?

    Much thanks for all the great training advise.

    Chris

  • It appears that with the new technique James seems to be getting more vertical “bounce” during his stride. I’ve always thought that this is to be avoided and is a sign of inefficiency. Is James’ new bounce just a sign of learning, or a permanent part of the new technique?

    • Excellent spot Steven! It’s important to remember that this ‘after’ footage is more like ‘initial unrefined changes’ footage!

      James is indeed displaying a little more vertical oscillation (bounce) than I’d want to see once he’s more familiar with the style. This tendency for runners to bounce a little more initially is indicative of *trying too hard* with the new swing pattern – essentially over-cooking the height of the swing limb carriage. This is often done in an effort to ‘feel the difference’ while the new skill is somewhat unrefined. This generally irons itself out with a little practice (through necessity as it is indeed inefficient), and if not can easily be cued out in subsequent sessions.

      It’s an evolution for every runner!

      • Thanks for the reply James. My gait is pretty similar to James’ and in an effort to overcome recurrent psoas/hip flexor pain I tried to mimic this technique on yesterday’s run – apart from feeling a bit foreign and “prancy” it seemed to work well as I had no sign of my normal pain/stiffness in the hip region during or after the run. Your point about the technique enabling a shorter leg swing length, which in turn takes the load off hip flexors worked for me. I will continue working on this to see if it is a permanent fix. Thanks for the tip! Any tips for drills?

  • Hi James,

    Great analysis – I tend to also feel that during swing phase, the foot flick is often coming in when athletes overly use their TFL to flex the hip rather than psoas/rec-fem, leading to an external rotation of the tib/fem joint at the same time through the effects of the ITB being tensioned up. It’s not easy to fix, but teaching proper hip flexion drills on top of a properly controlled pelvis can sort it out.

    Gill

    • Hi Gillian,

      Thanks for the insights :)

      I agree – and the question has to be *why* they’re creating this pattern of synergistic dominance. As you say, not easy to fix… but definitely fixable in most!

      Cheers,

      James

  • Great info James – simple, yet skilled and practical. Curious to what motion capture software tools or apps you use both for like these video clips and in clinic?

    Keep the great content coming!

  • hi James,

    very good video probably highlights some issues i have.

    will have to make sure I follow all your video’s from your bulletproof programme!

    cheer
    Neil

  • Hello James!

    I’m sprint triatlhete, at the moment I have been struggling with my IT band, it is super tight and apparently contractured. A sports medical doctor recommended your training sessions and I have been working with the excersises for stronger hips for 2 months now, I do feel that my technique and core strenght has improved, but I still feel that my band is tight and I’m not able to run for a long time because it gets worse. Any more recommendations? Saludos de Mexico

  • Hi James,

    Something that stands out to me is the difference in leg physique of the 2 runners and I have always wondered whether this has an impact on the running form. I believe I am very much like James in my running style and often thought about trying to convert. As a young athlete, I was very much a fast sprinter, which my bigger legs suited well, now as an older athlete and moving on to the longer distance, they are having to adapt. Any thoughts on this?

    I believe my main limiting factor for endurance running is skeletal muscular and I am currently looking at ways to improve it for a big marathon next year.

  • Now I understand why the inside of my calves are always full of mud.

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