Earlier today I came across the video below from Brian Martin, sharing some interesting insights into the running form of Australian Olympic Athlete Victoria Mitchell.
Brian’s observations provide plenty of food for thought, applicable to runners of all levels. As he says, it’s interesting to watch elite runners running ‘easy’ instead of simply observing competition footage.
I particularly enjoy the way that Brian focuses proximally in his observations, placing much importance on the hips, pelvis and lumbar region. This cross-roads of the body is vital to good running form, in my experience.
Having trained as a sports rehabilitation therapist, James now works exclusively with distance runners, helping athletes from beginner to pro to run stronger and pain free. Check out James' marathon training plan for beginners [PDF]. Formerly a professional rugby player, James’ route into endurance sports coaching hasn’t exactly been conventional. His transition into distance running has taught him what his body is capable of, a process which is ongoing! Read more...
Pardon me to interject but as I see this lady lands with her forefoot (short, but still) in front of her body mass which is not as good as it should be. In my opinion she suppose to land directly under her body mass if we talk details here. Off course this is ok if the stride is not over constrained and she is not suffering any stress because of it. Just a spot…
Well spotted. This is obviously a case study in what we ‘do see’ in a given athlete, rather than what we arguably ‘should see’ if we were to model an ideal gait pattern. Nobody is saying Victoria’s gait is perfect – but it seems to be working well for her 🙂
It’s also well worth noting that when observing the gait of distance runners (such as this athlete), we are less likely to see the foot landing directly under the centre of mass, as we would see in an elite sprinter.
Check out these elite marathon runners, they land their foot ahead of the centre of mass but importantly they land the foot under a flexing knee.
When it comes to not overstriding, for distance runners the most important factor I see is getting them to shorten their stride / improve posture / increase cadence enough to achieve this sagittal plane knee and foot / ankle alignment upon contact.
You are absolutely right. I saw those videos. What is common there – even though they land with foots just a bit before the center of the body mass they land directly below their knees which are banded. This additionally allows them to absorb the shock which make the stride more secure and efficiently.
The most common mistake runners do while trying to learn landing especially on forefoot is to extend the stride. This way the mechanic is constraint. Later it with training (posture and cadence) it becomes more efficient, clear and cogent. My thoughts are based on my own and my friend experience and observations as we learned through the running technics.
You have a wonderful portal here my friend!
Hi Witek, thank you for commenting. It’s often noted as an ideal to run with the foot landing directly under the body mass, but I must be honest and say I’ve never seen this in practice. As James has highlighted the key is to land with the posterior extension chain active, glutes, hamstrings etc firing which will give you a slight flex in the knee, but most importantly provide stability, absorb impact forces and provide power in faster running.
It is physically impossible to land straight under your center of gravity at constant speed. If you do, you will fall over. You may land under or behind center of gravity only during acceleration.
Hi James, thanks for posting this. I’m sure there will be a few different opinions on what people see or consider to be good technique. The main purpose of posting was to highlight some of the general factors related to good technique I see or have read highlighted in the research. All good food for thought.
this is a very good technique, when i run i use my sole to hit the ground…..
its quite easy when you are running on toes, heels up
The key is, that her body has caught up with her foot strike sight before she initiates her push off. If she were to place her foot directly beneath her centre of gravity, this would create, equally, if nor more breaking force than would over striding. She instinctively knows where her foot needs to land for her body to ‘catch up’ before the recover stage of the stride. You can see this by the extended leg and straight line created from her foot, right through to her head through the pulling phase of the stride.