Today I came across these two really well produced videos featuring professional distance runner Dathan Ritzenhein (@djritzenhein).
In the videos below, Dathan provides advice and demonstrations of his dynamic flexibility routine for runners, and a series of drills he uses to promote good distance running technique.
Running Form Drills
You can hear the words of Project Oregon coach Alberto Salazar echoing in Dathan’s words, in saying that good distance running form (especially at elite level) should closely mimic sprint form.Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.
With all the current talk about what foot strike is better, do the drills relate more to a specific type of foot strike? A few of these drills really tend to encourage you to run forefoot, i.e boots to glutes drill. I’m sure heel strike runners will still benefit, however, I find that these drills and stretches encourage me to change where my balance is which in turn leads me to do these exercises more on my toes – which isn’t a bad thing considering I’m changing my running style to forefoot running.
A great observation. During the execution of many of these drills, the runner will often feel themselves opting for a strike closer towards the forefoot. Generally, this is as a result of bringing the point of initial contact closer to under the hips – helping to cut out the common overstride we see in so many runners. This is achieved in no small part due to the way in which so many of the drills promote a ‘high’ carriage of the hips and pelvis, bringing them over the top of the landing foot, through improved posture.
As with all drills, the goal is for these positive elements (reduced overstride and improved posture, for example) to filter down into the steady start running style – whether heel striking or otherwise.
I am a strength and conditioning coach and work with young athletes (middle school and high school) and I also am a fastpitch pitching instructor for a few of them. I have noticed there is a significant correlation between the athletes who have a heel-strike running stride and who struggle to not only get a strong drive off of the mound, but also drop their heel as they move into what is called the “open” position for the pitch. The push-off is very similar to that of a sprinting start, but the fastpitch pitch is only one stride, so the weight transition is from the push-off foot, to the front foot, and immediately pushes back to provide resistance so that momentum is carried through the ball and basically a car crash effect is experienced–if the car is moving at 60mph and hits a wall, everything in the car continues to move forward at 60mph until something stops it. As my athletes are having diminished power outputs as a result of the dragging heel, their pitches are significantly slower than they could be should this change. I think part of this has to do with the initial push-off and possibly pushing off of the midfoot; they also have a midfoot landing with their stride leg. I guess my question is what are some drills you could recommend, if any, to aid in getting a strong sprint start that could transition to pitching. Thanks so much!
Nice videos of drills. Just one small observation. The sidestepping agility drill is carioca, not karaoke. Karaoke is done late at night with a microphone after too many beers:).
I picked up on that slip of the tongue too…!
Ritz is much quicker than me, so I’ll let it slide 🙂