Check yourself! Are you using the right running form?
In evaluating and teaching high-speed running mechanics, the coach must give the athletes key points on which to concentrate and consciously focus as they learn to re-program their motor patterns. It is useful to break down the movement in a way that is consistent with a systematic teaching progression. Before beginning any run make sure to warm up and stretch. Start with any combination of moves that get the blood flowing to the gluteus maximus (glute), calves and quadriceps such as high knees or lunges across a room. We call this a dynamic movement series. Essentially the dynamic movement series builds the muscles that cause the technical errors in your running form. See the end of this article for a sample Dynamic Movement Workout. Having the right information at your fingertips increases the possibility that you will run faster, be stronger in your run and your times will be better than ever.
When most people run, they take the path of least resistance which means taking a smaller stride, and they are rather comfortable. You can run for an extended period of time doing that. What you need to do is make sure that all the muscles in the lower body are really active so that you can get a good cardiovascular workout.
In order to improve your oxygen capacity, choose an interval style running workout. A traditional VO2 Max exercise would start with a vigorous pace you are comfortable with and set three minutes of work and one minute of rest/recovery where you bring the tempo and pace down to a light jog. You will repeat the three minutes of work and one minute of rest, five times. First, you have to ensure that you are elongating your stride so that you are not just your working the quadriceps. The glute is the largest muscle in your body and if your stride is too short, you are not engaging the glute at all. By elongating the stride you get the entire lower body working together and at once. It is a lot more work but it’s also more efficient. Therefore because it’s more efficient you are going to actively work more muscles during the course of the effort which means you are maximizing your time.
Secondly, increase your back kick by lifting your heel up higher behind you while using a big open stride. By increasing the back kick, you engage the hamstring as well. Relax your arms and tuck them in to your side so that they do not work against you. Challenge yourself in those three minutes and ride out your stride so that you can feel that hamstring work and open up the stride to push yourself into really working. Don’t forget to focus on your breathing. Push the air out of your lungs and your body will work like a vacuum and pull air back in.
End the workout with three minute cooldown and a static stretch on the quadriceps, hamstrings, inner thigh leg swing and calf stretch on both sides. This workout provides simple foundational techniques that will improve running efficiency and ultimately lead to running correctly and faster.