Interesting fact- Did you know that it takes 3 weeks for a muscle to learn something and become stronger? This is why the Natural Running Class is 3 weeks long. Class meets twice a week. During these two classes our instructor is pointing out what we need to work on. Then on our daily training runs we continue the good practice. In three weeks we should all be on our way to an efficient natural stride!
Practice makes perfect- Class time to practice time, things to think about before you run
This is the list I was given from Running Depot
- Head level and looking forward
- Upper body erect
- Slight forward lean
- Arms relaxed at 90 degrees
- Hips level
- Ankles and knees slightly flexed (Athletic stance)
- Land lightly under the center of your body
- keep all movements symmetrical
She follows our run correcting us on form while she has a metromone beeping. Just in case you don't know what a metromone is (I didn't). It beeps at 89-92 counts per minute. You listen to it and you make sure you are taking a step on every beat. Cadence is why it beeps 89-92 counts per minute...I'll explain
Cadence is very important. We should have the same amount of steps per minute if we are doing a 7 minute mile or a 13 minute mile. This gives us the most efficient stride. The reason for that is with a quick foot turn over you will have less vertical bounce. The perfect cadence is 88-92 steps per minute. To help understand why a quicker foot turn over is most efficient;
Imagine you are jumping rope, or actually try doing this.... Jump up and down slowly (notice how much your head bops up and down) Now jump rope at a quicker pace. You should notice your head does not bop as much. Plus your landing lighter and the impact is much less on your feet. The same is true when running. With a slow turn over of your feet your head bops up and down. You are pausing on each step and that causes a stronger push off to move. This ends up being upward, not forward. We want to keep all our motion forward with the least amount of energy being used. Almost like we are falling forward on a flat surface.
Over the course of a marathon a non efficient runner can have 3.8 miles of climbing with all that wasted vertical motion. Wowzie...that's a lot of unneeded work. With an efficient stride you will still have some climbing, 1.3 miles in the course of a marathon. This means an efficient stride gives us a savings of 2.5 miles of climbing. I'll take that!!! ... I'll need that energy the last 10k of my marathon!
During our run last night we practiced running different paces while maintaining the 88-92 cadence. Cari reminded us how important it was to keep landing lightly under the center of our body. It was very interesting how you can move at a slow or fast pace while still moving your feet at the same cadence. I was comfortable with it and could feel the benefits. For me, I imagine staying light on my feet, and moving the one foot forward as soon as I sit down the other one. This method kept my cadence correct. Then you simply adjust the pace by opening up your stride. This needs to be done with the effort from your back foot/leg. Be careful you keep landing lightly under the center of your body. If you open your stride and land in front of your body that is called overstriding and causes all kinds of wasted energy and injuries.