Priscah Jeptoo Running Technique Analysis

Nov 24, 2013   //   by James Dunne   //   Biomechanics & Running Technique  //  7 Comments  //  Affiliate Disclosure  

How does she do it…?

Anybody who has ever watched Priscah Jeptoo race, has probably asked that exact question!

I recently came across some footage of Priscah Jeptoo’s running technique, featuring her running at (and winning) the Great North Run earlier this year (2013).

I thought I’d use the footage to share my thoughts in recording the video analysis below:

Stride Frequency (Running Cadence)

I was fairly surprised when I did the cadence calculations, to see that Priscah was running fatigued with a cadence well into the 190s.

This I believe is a significant factor as to why and how she can ‘get away with’ the dramatic knee valgus position she gets into bilaterally, and remains relatively injury free.

As described in the blog post on running cadence I published shortly after, in 2011 Heiderscheit et al. published research indicating that with an increased running cadence comes reduced loading of the knee and hip joints, and a decrease the amount of vertical displacement of the centre of mass (bounce).

For one reason or another, perhaps strength of hip abductors and external rotators (glutes), or possibly bony anatomy such as femoral anteversion (only maybe), Priscah’s knees tend to load into a fairly dramatic valgus position. The key is that she has adapted her running form to reduce load acting upon that dysfunctional position of the knee.

Upper Body Action

This is something it took me ages in my development as a coach to fully appreciate…!

I now believe that when the lower body is functioning properly, only then should we seek to correct the running action of the upper body. One significant function of arm action in running gait is to dampen and balance-out any excessive rotation or lateral movement created by the action of the lower body. Watch the second half of the video above and you’ll see how despite the ‘flailing around’ of Priscah’s limbs, her torso remains remarkably still, with her centre of mass maintaining a steady and efficient progression forwards.

It’s actually quite incredible how well balanced she remains!

Your Thoughts…?

My comments above are simply food for thought, and my reaction to watching the footage back a few times. I’d be pleased to hear the thoughts of others 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.

 

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7 Comments

  • […] quem me mandou o vídeo, o Luis Fernando (@slowatforty). Mas sempre sai algo de interessante quando a coisa é cuidadosa como nesta análise de Priscah […]

  • Hi James,

    I think this is a good and nice article. Sometimes we are too focused to want to change. The running style or the running style
    Priscah Jeptoo is good example. If she runs such times as it is this, why would you want to change, though trainer / coach than her running style although it is ‘extreme’ look in our eyes?

    What you rightly observes, “It’s really quite incredible how well they remain balanced!”
    And in spite of the ‘flailing around’ by Priscah’s limbs, her torso remains remarkably silent.

    The only thing you can do as a trainer / coach, is supporting her as much as possible to her running style / her running style.

  • Great video and analysis James, she has an amazing run gait and it is amazing that she doesn’t get injured all the time. I suppose her body has maybe conditioned itself to be used to the forces she is putting apon it and like you say she has that very high cadence.
    Keep it going enjoying your blogs

  • The interesting thing about Jeptoo is that from the side she looks quite graceful. It’s only from the front that one notices her “flaws.”

    It would be interesting to see her perform an easy run. I doubt her cadence would be “well in to the 190s.” When you consider that Kenyans spend most of the time running “easy,” it calls into question your assumption that high cadence helps her “get away with” running with such a gait while remaining injury free…

    • Hi Luke,

      True, we’d certainly expect to see variability in any runner’s rate of cadence as pace increases and decreases. You’re right in citing how many of Jeptoo’s training miles will have been completed at a much ‘easier pace’. However I still expect (but can’t prove) that her ‘easy’ pace cadence will be relatively high in comparison to the average similarly competitive runner training at the same ‘easy’ pace…

      Cheers,

      James

  • […] this running analysis video of elite runner Priscah Jeptoo by running coach James Dunne, you can see how […]

  • taking the peripheral limbs out of the equation Priscah is like a steam train heading full speed. No vertical oscillation, legs travelling really well behind her, amazing that you can hardly tell from her torso when a foot is on the floor. -other than arm swing. She has a really strong upright posture and above all huge cadence which I really agree makes the loading forces minimal.
    Reminds me of Ironman legend Lori Bowden.
    Lots to learn from your comments as always James.

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