Earlier this year I had my running gate filmed and analyzed by my triathlon coach outside on a football field. Besides the normal running gate, we did a variety of running drills to help improve form and efficiency. Before we were kicked off the field (It turns out you are not allowed to be on the East High School football field for any reason- even in bare feet!) we were able to try some new ways of moving through our run. Afterward we viewed ourselves.
All I can say is “OMG!” My perception of my running form was quite a bit different than the person I saw on the monitor. I envisioned myself as a slower, older version of Ironman winners. I was pretty far from that perfect form. The interesting thing about running is that almost everyone can get from here to there; but do it effectively and quickly may require some retraining especially if you haven’t run before or are getting a bit older like me.
I intuitively thought “I know how to run! I’ve been doing it since I was 2 years old. What is there new to learn?!” How wrong I was. The combination of years of activity, lack of focus, post ACL surgery and more had all added up to me developing poor running form. The interesting thing is that there is NO WAY I could evaluate my form on my own. None of us has the proper perspective to evaluate our running form. We just can’t see
The other mitigating factor in this discussion is that poor running form puts you on the fast track to injury. As our form deteriorates either over the years or during a longer distance event, we begin to recruit other muscles and unbalance our system to the point of becoming extremely inefficient. As all of these components stack up a lot of people feel like they need to give up running completely or just don’t have fun anymore.
Running should be play and not all work. It’s not all about the miles or hours you put in. Unless you can let go, your exercise might start to feel like another job. That’s not exactly why we started running is it?
Consider having yourself recorded (you can use your phone) either at the store or out in the field. Then spend a little time with your coach or Lisa Menninger here at the store going over your foot strike and gait analysis. You’ll be surprised what you can learn by watching yourself. Your coach will give you some drills to work on which may include barefoot drills, backward running and a whole bunch of seemingly crazy stuff. Give them all a try and then re-recode yourself. I bet you’ll look better and feel like you’re running stronger within a month. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
Dr. Michael Cerami is an avid runner, cyclist and triathlete. He writes a weekly blog on his website and sees patients monthly for no-charge injury assessments at The Salt Lake Running Company. He can be reached at 801-486-1818 or online at www.utahsportsandwellness.com