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 above.
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!
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… 🙂