How to improve your run form
Dermott Hayes explains how you can develop a more efficient running technique by adopting these 8 easy tweaks
01. SILENCE YOUR FEET
Reduce your impact on the ground by concentrating on the noise that your feet make when striking it. A heavy strike means greater force, which can both slow you down and lead to a greater risk of injury. So work on increasing your strides per minute (cadence) and aim to hit the ground with the midfoot before pushing to the forefoot quickly. Pay more attention to potential noisy feet when in the latter stages of a run, too. In training, start by making your foot strike as quiet as possible for 1min of each 8-10mins and then gradually increase the amount of ‘quiet’ time.
How treading softly could lead to big gains in running performance
02. STORE A BANK CARD BETWEEN YOUR BOTTOM CHEEKS
A great way to improve your posture when running is to engage and hold your core muscles tight, meaning that your glutes, lower back and abdominals are all working. A common sight in triathlon, especially over long-distance racing, is the slumping of the middle area of the body that eventually leads to a slowing of pace.
To stop this, imagine that when running you’re storing your bank card in between your bottom cheeks! This’ll automatically make you squeeze your glutes, which in turn will make you taller and keep your posture in good form.
03. UP THE CADENCE
It’s quite common to see triathletes with a slower-than-optimal cadence by the time they hit the run. This is usually caused by fatigue that’s accrued over the swim and bike, yet it can be prevented by being conscious of your foot strike. An optimal cadence is seen as 180 strides per minute.Work on this by breaking down your long steady run and including blocks of 100-200m every 1km where you actively incorporate a faster, but slightly shorter, stride pattern. Over time, aim to increase the amount of time that you can hold the faster cadence until it becomes a more natural pattern.
04. TACKLE 180° TURNS
The objective of executing a 180° turn is to lose as little speed as possible, so it’s good to practice these in training. As you approach the turn point, give yourself a little room around the cone so that you don’t come to a complete stop, and then lean your body in towards the turn. On exiting the turn, increase your stride cadence and shorten your stride, a bit like a sprinter starting the 100m, and put in a short burst of about 20-30m to get back into your race pace.
05. RUN OFF THE BIKE
The first and most obvious advice is to practise running off the bike regularly – even in the off-season you can add on a 1km run at the end of a bike session. When starting the run, your pace can be quite fast due to the legs having warmed up from the bike, but be cautious and aware of your estimated pace for the distance of your run. The aim is to settle quickly into your race pace and get your breathing under control.
06. TAME THE TRAILS
Running off road is incredibly beneficial for building triathlon strength, but it does require a different technique. You must concentrate on the path in front of you and be prepared to change direction, moving laterally or changing stride length in order to find the best place to step. Stay light on your feet. If running downhill on trails where the path has a camber, then use a zigzag direction and use the camber to help control your speed.
07 CHANGE YOUR STRIDE LENGTH
Change your stride length to improve running efficiency and prevent blow-ups on the hills. Check out this video below for more tips:
When you hit the steeper sections, shorten your stride length to ‘Baby Steps’ and aim to keep your heels off the ground. Increase your cadence slightly to keep your feet moving quickly.
Keep your posture tall and look straight ahead rather than at your feet. Use your arms to maintain power and momentum.
When you get to the top work hard to maintain pace instead of taking an opportunity to recover.
08. THINK ‘SOCKET TO POCKET’
It’s quite simple really – fast and efficient running is greatly improved with a powerful arm drive that generates
forward momentum. So when trying to create more speed, think about your hands moving from ‘Socket to Pocket’ with every arm movement. Start with your arm bent and the hand level with your shoulder socket, then drive the arm all the way back so your hand is at your pocket, before pushing the arm forward again so your hand returns back
to your shoulder socket. Throughout this movement, keep your upper back and shoulders relaxed so no energy is wasted.