Most of us seem quite capable of walking, so isn’t this also true for running? You may have heard people say; just get out there and run! You will work out the best running technique if you just get the miles under your feet.
There is a lot of truth to this way of thinking. Even examples of scientific research indicate that this is often the most efficient way to run for your current body type and condition. However, I’d like to consider another perspective by asking a question.
How often do you practice the skill of walking each day? Do you know of anyone that has not walked for a long time, perhaps due to injury or illness? How many of these people have stepped out of their bed and begun walking normally immediately? Skills become autonomous once you’ve practiced them over many years. You don’t need to think about how to perform them anymore, you will just instinctively do it. There is plenty of scientific theory behind how we acquire skills, but more on that in a future blog post. For now let’s focus on running.
Running is a skill that you can learn just like any other. In an over simplified example, we can consider the golf swing. If you’ve never played before, imagine grabbing hold of a club and taking a swing for the first time. This first try rarely produces the most effective result and certainly not consistently. One solution to improving a golf swing would be to lift weights hoping that more strength results in more yards. Another approach would be to simply practice swinging the club over and over again. Hoping that by understanding the result of each swing your body will start to learn what is more effective.
Both of these approaches are likely to bring some positive result. However, I think most people would agree that this isn’t the most effective way to get results. It is far more common for people that start out playing golf to be taught or coached. That might be as simple as a friend or family member helping out or it can go as far as hiring a professional golf coach that helps you break down your technique. This guidance can accelerate your learning curve, helping you to achieve an effective result much more efficiently, with less frustration and less risk of injuring yourself. When you have acquired the basic skill, suddenly hitting the gym to increase your strength and putting in hours of practice swings starts to make much more sense in bringing additional benefits.
Treat your running technique as a skill
Running can be approached in a similar fashion. Treating your running technique as a skill can make you more aware of how effectively you are using your body. Rather than pushing the limits of your body each time you head out in the hope that better fitness will bring more results, think about how you are moving. Ask yourself the question if you are the finely tuned instrument that you could be. Imagine how it would feel to glide effortlessly through your run, resulting in more speed and distance. Just consider how the load of every step is distributed through your body. This might just put unnecessary stress or strain on a particular joint, muscle or tendon.
What’s the golden running technique?
There is still no consensus in scientific research that points to one golden running technique. However, it has become very clear that running technique has a significant impact on running economy and on the risk of specific injuries. The challenge is in understanding your own body well enough to find the right combination of elements that will create the most effective running technique for you. This is something we will try to help you with through this blog, by breaking down running technique into separate elements.