Learn to run like Eliud Kipchoge with this breakdown of his iconic running technique.
While most of us can only dream of running even a single mile at his 4:34 minutes per mile marathon pace (let alone a full marathon!) there is so much we can all learn by watching Kipchoge’s running technique, and applying the key points to our own individual running styles…
What can we learn from Eliud Kipchoge’s Running Technique?
In the video above, I take a closer look at Eliud Kipchoge’s running technique. Thanks to this slow-motion footage from the 2019 London Marathon, I can analyse what makes his running technique so efficient, and explain how runners like you and I can improve our own running styles by watching the best marathon runner of all time in full flight!
In his quest to become the first-ever runner to finish a marathon in under 2 hours, which he achieved by completing the INEOS 1:59 Challenge with a time of 1:59:40, Kipchoge worked hard to perfect all aspects of his training.
From what I’ve heard, running form wasn’t overlooked!
Of course, many different factors contributed to him successfully achieving this landmark running achievement, one of which has to be his running technique.
Eliud Kipchoge is a great example of proper running technique for distance running! His seemingly effortless running style is something we can all aspire to!
In this running analysis of Eliud Kipchoge, the five aspects of his running technique I’m going to highlight are:
1. Footstrike for Distance Running
You’ll see from the video that Eliud Kipchoge runs with a midfoot strike, rather than running aggressively on his forefoot, as you might expect from a sprinter.
Unlike the majority of recreational runners, Kipchoge doesn’t heelstrike.
In allowing the balls of his feet to strike the ground first, a split second before the rest of his foot, he maximises stretch-reflex properties of the Achilles tendon and calf complex. This allows him to store energy in these tissues, which is then released later in stance phase of his running gait (learn more about the phases of running gait here) to help propel him forwards onto the next stride.
Unlike sprinters, and runners who run with a pronounced forefoot strike, he doesn’t keep his heel off the ground throughout stance phase of his running gait.
Instead, he allows his heel to “kiss” the ground, before lifting again after midstance. Here’s an article which discusses how to overcome calf pain caused by forefoot running, by allowing your heel to contact the ground during stance phase of running gait.
2. Eliud Kipchoge’s Stride Length
Kipchoge doesn’t overstride. This puts him at a huge biomechanical advantage, both in terms of efficiency and injury prevention.
As we see from the video above, many other runners, even elite athletes often overstride by landing excessively ahead of their centre of mass, usually with a heavy heel strike.
When your foot strikes the ground with your ankle ahead of your knee, you increase the decelerative braking forces your body experiences and has to overcome before moving on to the next stride.
When overstriding, you’re effectively running with the brakes applied!
Kipchoge, in comparison, strikes the ground with his foot in a position where his ankle is perfectly beneath his knee. This allows him to maintain efficient forward progression while keeping decelerative forces to a minimum.
3. Running Cadence & Ground Contact Time
Eliud Kipchoge’s running cadence varies a little throughout the marathon, which is normal, but it is certainly in the often quoted 180 steps per minute range that would be expected. Sometimes slightly above, sometimes slightly under this figure.
In comparison to many recreational runners who run with a cadence in the 160s range, this fast running cadence helps Kipchoge to maintain an efficient stride, and minimise the risk of running injury.
Maintaining a high running cadence (stride frequency) certainly helps to prevent overstriding. It also allows Kipchoge to achieve a short ground contact time.
When you maintain a short ground contact time, your limb stiffness is increased. This increase in limb stiffness allows for a more efficient transfer of energy into the ground as you run. Feel free to geek-out and learn more about limb stiffness with this video from my friend Ian Griffiths.
4. Running Arm Action & Torso Rotation
The gentle torso rotation we see in Eliud Kipchoge’s running technique is effectively a form of counter-rotation. It exists to balance out the action of his legs and pelvis.
With his upper and lower body working in an opposite rotational pattern, it allows him to use his core muscles more effectively to help drive forward.
5. Kipchoge’s Relaxed Running Style
This is something we can all work on!
Although Eliud Kipchoge is running incredibly quickly, he looks relaxed and in control. His hands, shoulders and face are all relaxed.
This such is an important and often overlooked aspect of running technique.
Believe it or not, smiling is something to try while running (even when it feels tough), as a simple smile will psychologically and possibly physiologically trick your body into relaxing a little more!
Let me know how you get on with applying these principles of Eliud Kipchoge’s running technique to your own running.