Q&A: Feedback on Running Gait Changes

Question From Phil via Twitter

I am completely un-kinaesthetic, run solely off-road and usually alone: how do I implement gait changes with little or no feedback?

Response From Coach James Dunne

Hi Phil,

This is something we come across from time-to-time when working with runners and triathletes. Some athletes are highly aware of the feeling created by every little movement they make, while others struggle to process this intrinsic feedback and the subtleties involved in changing one movement pattern for another.

From a coaching point of view, clearly it’s often an easier process to work with an athlete who has a great sense of body-awareness. That said, sometimes this sense can become overly heightened and prompt over-analysis of kinaesthetic feedback by the athlete, where they just need to stop thinking and run for the next repetition or mile!

In the case of the latter, less kinaesthetically aware type of athlete, the biggest challenge in making changes to running gait is the perceived lack of intrinsic feedback available to them. Where the more aware athlete can immediately feel the physical impact of changes made on-the-run, the less tuned-in athlete is left unsure of what, if anything is changing, let alone how to then implement and reinforce appropriate changes.

Where there is less awareness of internal feedback, I often suggest focusing on external stimuli. Here are a couple of ideas for you:

Running With A Metronome

I find running with a metronome an incredibly useful way to develop an appropriate running cadence. First try measuring your ‘natural’ cadence for a given pace. Then set the metronome to a rhythm 5% more than that you measured, and practice running with your foot striking the ground in time with the beats. More running cadence info here.

Listen To Your Foot Contacts

Speaking in general terms, one simple form of extrinsic feedback you can utilise is the sound of your foot fall from stride to stride. As a general rule, we want you to be light on your feet, which will also come as a result of finding an appropriate cadence for the chosen pace. We don’t want to hear and scuffing, rather a clean placement with each contact.

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.