Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Running form gone bad

Participation in the double-header weekend provided a unique opportunity for some serious running photo opportunities (especially thanks to Kim's cousin).

Looking at the DE race pics, I noticed something that frustrates me. After being a heel-striker my whole life, in 2010 I started re-training myself to land closer to my mid-foot. In my mind, I think I'm ok at keeping this up but I know I slip when I get tired or pick up the pace. It's certainly something I have to always be thinking about as I'm running and it's looking like when I'm distracted by talking my companion's ear off, everything regresses...

Note Exhibit A: I'm concentrating on finishing, getting ready for a nice mid-foot plant. Well done, Average Woman Runner! And look at Kim, she's a natural mid-forefoot striker. But what is my right hand doing crossing over my chest? Not quite right there. 
Exhibit A. 
But wait! As shown in Exhibit B, I am getting all excited about our grand matchy-matchy finish and my form goes to hell. I'm about to take a GIANT heel-plant here while lovely Kim maintains her nice foot strike. I should not be able to see my sole.
Exhibit B. 
The next day is worse. When left completely to my own devices and am putting the pedal to the medal, it's not pretty. Exhibit C is an example from the NJ race. We'll start with the good. If you saw this close up, you would be very impressed with my slightly possessed-looking "eye of the tiger" stare I'm giving that finish line as I approach. This is to scare everyone out of my way. Also, it appears from this angle that my hips are even (see also Exhibit A). 

And now the bad, starting from the top. While my hips are even, my shoulders clearly are not. If this was a 3-D photo, we would see that not only are my shoulders hunched up toward my ears and my left shoulder higher than my right, we would see that my entire torso is twisted. It's like instead of swinging my arms back and forth, I'm twisting my torso from side-to-side. It's just not healthy-looking. 

And speaking of arms, again I have my arm crossing my torso rather than swinging easily along my side. While you can't see it here, I'm pretty sure we can assume that I'm putting my heel down, BAM!, right in front of my center of gravity rather than landing on my mid-foot right below me. From this photo, it looks jarring. Just a sore IT band waiting to happen, right?

Exhibit C.
As I get ready for the upcoming Snohomish River Run 10k this weekend, I need to think about maintaining better form even when I'm running hard. I don't want to ruin every run by obsessing about my form but perhaps there are some simple reminders I can use to try to (continue to) correct myself over time. I think this will be especially important as I continue building my base and think about ramping up my mileage for another marathon attempt (did I just use the 'm' word?).

So here is my homework:
  1. Arms front to back, swing from shoulders, no twisting.
  2. Feet under hips, mid-foot plant.
  3. Shoulders relaxed.
  4. Hold myself up tall, no slouching. 
I think being more vigilant about working on my core strength will help with #4 but the rest is going to take constant reminding.

Anyone else have form or posture reminders they use while running? Any tips on improving form? 

17 comments:

  1. Core strength will absolutely help with all of those things!! The stronger your core is, the less the rest of your body tries to compensate for weakness or imbalance. I'm still struggling with the arm-swing thing myself.
    I think the angle of Exhibit C exaggerates some of the things you're looking at.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did you have to show Exhibit B? Ack, I look like I'm going to sneeze (or fall over). Thanks for the compliments on my form...but I often wonder if the foot strike thing depends on when the picture was taken? No?

    I think your 4 homework points are great advice for all runners. Good luck this weekend! I hope the weather is perfect for you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am also working on my form. My thing is improving left glute strength and pay attention to cadence and keeping my core engaged. One tip my PT has is that I don't have obsess about it every second, just check in with my body every so often when running and work on it and it will come.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, those darn glutes. I need to work on those too. Lots of bridge pose.

      Delete
  4. Haaahaha. I do the same thing with my race pictures. Hilarious. I was actually finishing up a post on why I think Jerk Shin is always so shady, based on race pictures.

    those 4 points are good for everyone to remember. It's just so hard, when your brain stops thinking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweet! I will look for that Jerky Shin.

      Delete
  5. I am sure I have terrible running form but I am too lazy to analyze it. You still look adorable.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What Becka said above. I have never looked at my running photos in such detail! I'm sure more attention to form would help, but I don't really know where to start...

    ReplyDelete
  7. agree on your analysis and detail mentioned above. i think there is info on all of this at the altra zero website. i also learned at PT that the core and the butt muscles (which apparently women don’t use enough and aren’t strong enough) are really important. will try to do some videos and post on blog of exercises-but basically crab legs and speed skaters with a band around your ankles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent, looking forward to learning more about Altra and hear about your running in them. Share all!

      Delete
  8. I made the switch to minimal shoes over the last year and had to change my form and foot strike. It has been for the better, but I don't always stay "proper", especially when I am tired. I found an AWFUL picture of my form at the Narrows Half this year. My right foot is up and out and sideways... so weird. I really like that you found these photos and took the time to analyze it all!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great photos!
    I'm definitely guilty of having my form fall apart when I get tired...

    100-ups are a good exercise for practicing proper form (midfoot stride, no arm crossover) as are some of the track drills I did a couple of months ago.

    You can find the form drills link on Running Times: http://www.runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=17578 (if that video doesn't play, let me know, and I'll send an alt link).

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think you should give yourself a pad on the back for a pretty good running form! Knowing that you used to be heel striker, this is even more impressive! How did you re-train yourself? I'm a super bad heel striker and my hips are not even at all. So far I'm doing good injury-wise, but my pictures are pretty bad.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am the WORST at crossing my arms across my body and often end a run with a tired upper body. Definitely something I need to work on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for sharing this. I love running but since I get older my joints pain getting worst. I wish I can run like I'm in my 20's.

    Jacob of running Philippines

    ReplyDelete
  13. Race pictures are always bad, but they do remind me to correct things in my form :0) I have mastered the forward arm swing, but still think I look like I'm walking rather than running

    ReplyDelete
  14. But at least you are aware of it and you can work and fix it for the next race.

    ReplyDelete