Remaking My Form: Where to Start

Oh dear. Oh bother.Ā Oh Bother

My mind just so terribly busy at the moment. I’d love to tell you all about the fantastic Newton Running clinic I went to last weekend–and I will as soon as I get some time–but right now, I’m in panic mode.

I tend to get overwhelmed pretty easily–not about things that actually matter, like work, but about things that are much less consequential. Like fixing my running form.

To say that I took in a lot of information at Saturday’s clinic is an understatement.

A few of the salient points: (<–sheezus, am I in work mode, or what?)

  • Posture is key. Your head shouldn’t dip forward, but should be aligned with your spine.
  • Heel-striking puts 2.5X your body weight’s stress on your ankles, knees, and hips with every step. In a 30 minute run, that means approximately 2500-3000 heel strikes. No wonder I’m in pain.
  • You should be pushing off the mid-foot with each stride landing just beneath your hips, using your hamstrings rather than your hip flexors to propel you.
  • Heel-striking effectively stops you in your tracks. Your muscles have to work much harder to keep propelling you forward than they do if you’re landing elastically on your mid-foot.

running wrong

In case you can’t tell, that’s a lot to take in. And basically, everything I’m doing wrong. This morning I ran with Roo and thus no music (safety first!) and I think I have the noisiest stride maybe ever. It was like an elephant was lumbering along the sidewalk. With every stride, all I could hear was, “HEEL. HEEL. HEEL. HEEL.” Ugh.

I’m intimidated. I thought I understood that I had my work cut out for me, but at this point, I’m just feeling overwhelmed about where to start.

If you were remaking your form, and you had to choose a place to start, what would you do?

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19 thoughts on “Remaking My Form: Where to Start

  1. I would have no idea where to start either! I am a heel striker as well and I know it does not help my ankles. I do think a heavier shoe doesn’t help – so that’s my first step. Next is…who knows! I guess really focusing on form on the treadmill at a slow pace that will drive me insane? How do you get to the point where it feels natural? Whatever you decide/find out let me know and I’ll follow!

    And awww that first pic in your collage is from Miami. Good times šŸ™‚

    • That was good times–except for my little, ahem, accident during the race. :-/ 

      I will figure it out. Someday. Somehow. Too bad I’m not patient . . .

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  2. hhrunner says:

    YOU CAN DO IT!! I PROMISE!! If I can fix my form, you can definitely fix yours!!! ā¤ Keep your chin up. The hard work you put in WILL be worth it in the end!

    Also when I first read "Heel. Heel. Heel." I actually read "Hell. Hell. Hell." hahaha.

  3. Why’s your middle and right picture wrong? Middle definitely looks like a mid foot strike. Don’t they say to test your running on a treadmill so you don’t have to worry about speed and so you only have to focus on striking? Maybe try that out?

    • At the clinic they told me that running on a treadmill is all hip flexor heel striking because it propels you along. I just know that I was heel striking at that point. Perhaps it’s the angle of the pics?

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  4. I’m thinking I should just stay away from running clinics right now. I would be overwhelmed too. I wonder if you can find a coach to just correct your form and let you get a feeling for how it should be. You might only need the coach for a short time until you fully understand what it is supposed to be like. Just a thought. šŸ™‚

  5. I’m going through the same thing right now after attending the Newton Clinic and a Chi Running workshop. It is so overwhelming to try to change your form so the Chi Running instructor recommended focusing only on two things at once; i.e., arms/lean, posture/pivot point, etc. It’s definitely helped make it seem more manageable.

    • Yeah, I’m sure taking it step by step would help. I just have to get myself to ignore all the other things I’m doing wrong while I fix just one! šŸ˜‰

  6. I work at a running store and seem to get asked “what is the best way to run?” in relation to form every single day. I sell Newtons at work and have been to the clinic, and it does make sense, biomechanically. I was able to transition from heel-striking to mostly midfoot striking over a few years (note: if you switch cold turkey this week your body will not like it…) by doing strides after runs, speedwork, and core/balance work. All of this lends to improved posture and decreased stride length/increased stride frequency (which is what you want). When you’re concentrating on form during strides and workouts, you realize how much easier it is to save energy and run faster when you aren’t planting down on your heel with your center of gravity behind you.

    • Great info, Meghan–thank you! The Newton clinic instructor also recommended starting with lots of drills to get yourself used to landing on your midfoot. Lots to think about!

  7. My form is terrible! the last half of last year my focus was on my heel strike, this year it’s on my back/alignment & keepin my chin down (half the time it looks like someone is dragging me along by my chin) :). Of course I’ve re-injured my back & can’t run now, so clearly I am not getting it right. šŸ˜¦ I am seriously considering getting a running coach. It would make it MUCH easier to have someone watching me & telling me what I’m doing wrong.

    • Oh no! Well, I agree that a running coach is probably the way to go. I need someone to tell me exactly what to do!

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  8. I think I’m a huge heel striker! I also have this pain in the ball of my left foot. My feet just turn weird when I run (I know there is a real term for that?). I’m even conscious of the fact when I’m running but I don’t know how to fix it!

    • Haha probably pronating šŸ™‚ But that pain in the ball of your foot doesn’t sound good! Maybe orthodics would help?

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  9. Here are the keys:

    – Posture: nice and aligned, ear over your shoulder, relaxed and tall.
    – Position: Nice and springy body, from the ground up. Soft ankles, knees and hips
    – Cadence: ~175-185 steps per minute is optimum

    Of course there’s more (which we’d be happy to talk about if you don’t mind your blog being hijacked!) but those are a great starting point!

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