‘The best scientific and real-world evidence indicates that the best way to improve your stride is not to think about it’
This is a quote from best-selling author of many book on running, Matt Fitzgerald, who has checked out all the research on improving your technique
In Part 3 of our series I want to look at how just simply ‘running’ can be the most effective way to improve your running technique (read: efficiency)
In the last 5-10 years a belief has developed that one can improve technique through various conscious methods, for example trying to increase your stride rate , whereas old school thought was that you simply ran and it happened naturally
Rod Tucker, a considered ‘running expert, and exercise physiologist from the Uni of Cape Town, favours the latter. ‘It’s difficult to fathom that millions of people, with different body shapes and sizes and leg lengths and [centers] of gravity and joint angles could fit into one single pattern or technique’
No study has ever demonstrated an improvement in running economy or performance resulting from technique training. In a recent study from the University of Munster, trained runners were asked to run for 10 minutes at a designated pace on three occasions: once while thinking about their breathing, once while thinking about their stride, and once while thinking about the environment around them. Oxygen consumption was monitored during all three runs. And guess what? The runners were most economical whilst not thinking about their bodies as they ran.
New research by Stephen McGregor at Eastern Michigan University suggests that improvements in stride efficiency are a major factor in long-term improvements in running performance. But these improvements appear to unfold naturally and unconsciously through the normal training process
It appears the best way to improve your running technique is to not think about it and instead simply run often and run regular. In doing so you will expose your system to challenges that it will meet by finding more efficient way to sustain desired speeds
As a well known brand keeps telling us: (Don’t think), ‘just do it.’
So, how does the advice provided in the first 2 parts of this series fit with the evidence above? Well the activities I provided are designed to improve strength and coordination in the appropriate muscles and thus are an indirect way of helping with form. The idea isn’t to think about your technique whilst doing the activities, but they will have a carry over to when you’re actually running
So then, how can you use the evidence presented here for your kids?
Well they can build up time running ‘naturally’ by getting the family together for some easy runs on trails (little ones can ride their bikes, and you can bring the dog along as well), taking part in the phenomenally popular ‘Park Runs’ (free, organised runs every Sat morning-search ‘Park Run’ and you’ll find one close to you- they’re everywhere!), or just making sure they get out and ‘run around’ in any way possible. A message we’re hearing more and more in the current ‘screen age’