Learn to run like Kenenisa Bekele with this breakdown of his iconic running technique.
In the video above, I analyse Kenenisa Bekele’s running technique and discuss what runners like you and I can take away from watching one of the fastest marathon runners in the world. I’ll explain how we can apply these observations to our own training, and each become better runners.
Kenenisa Bekele is one of the all-time greatest distance runners. The footage used for this running analysis video shows him winning the Vitality London Big Half in 2020 with a course record time of 60 minutes 22 seconds.
Lots of different factors contribute to Bekele’s prowess as an endurance athlete. One such factor is his great running form. Kenenisa Bekele provides a great example of proper running technique for distance running, that we can all aspire to!
The five aspects of Kenenisa Bekele’s running form I highlight in this video are:
1. FOOTSTRIKE & STRIDE ANGLE
You’ll see that Kenenisa Bekele runs with a midfoot strike, rather than running aggressively on his forefoot, as you might expect from a sprinter. Neither does he land on his heels, as the majority of runners do.
Bekele runs with a midfoot strike, landing close to beneath a flexing knee, rather than overstriding.
He creates a long stride without overstriding, and is able to do so because of the stride angle he creates at the hips – the separation between peak hip extension and peak hip flexion, at terminal stance (the point that his trailing foot leaves the ground).
Such a large stride angle allows him to cover more ground during flight phase.
To emulate this, you can focus on exercises that help to improve hip mobility, and running technique drills to help you “run from the hips”. Hill sprints are a fantastic way of achieving this.
2. STRIDE WIDTH & FOOT PRONATION
Kenenisa Bekele runs without allowing his feet to cross the midline of his body, rather than displaying the type of crossover gait which sometimes occurs as a result of poor core and hip stability, and is also quite commonly seen in forefoot striking runners.
You can see that Bekele strikes the ground with his feet in a supinated position. His feet then roll inwards through pronation during the “loading response” period of his stance phase.
This is completely normal; pronation is something we all do to a greater or lesser extent when we run and walk. His transition from supination to pronation is more pronounced on his right side.
3. RUNNING CADENCE & GROUND CONTACT TIME
Maintaining a high running cadence (stride frequency) not only helps you to prevent overstriding it also allows you to keep 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 throughout the body, and into the ground as you run.
Kenenisa Bekele has a running cadence of 180-190 strides per minute with at his half marathon race pace (around 4:37/mile).
4. VERTICAL OSCILLATION (BOUNCE)
The world’s best distance runners tend to run with very little “bounce”. They waste little energy moving up-and-down and channel all their effort into efficiently moving forwards.
Kenenisa Bekele is no different. Running with a fast cadence and short contact time will help you to reduce your vertical oscillation and bounce less when you run.
5. RUNNING ARM ACTION & UPPER BODY ROTATION
The gentle and relaxed torso rotation you see in Kenenisa Bekele’s running form is a form of counter-rotation 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 himself forward.
For more information about how runners use the anterior oblique sling, check out this previous video: Eliud Kipchoge Running Technique Analysis
I can’t wait to see Kenenisa Bekele running the London Marathon 2020 later this year!
Let me know how you get on with trying to apply these principles of Kenenisa Bekele’s running technique to your own running.