Do you know the phrase “leaving money on the table?’ In poker it’s used to mean when you don’t play intelligently you leave money on the table. In other words you don’t get as much as you could.
Watching runners as I am want to do, I wonder if this idea could be applied to their movement patterns . In many, perhaps most cases it appears (to mix some metaphors) that they are not getting all the juice from the lemon. There is more to be had for the same amount of energy expenditure.
Here are a few examples.
ELASTICITY: When the Pose method came out in the late 90’s followed not long after with the barefoot running phase, it was common to see runners up on their toes, often not letting the heels touch the ground at all. Besides the calf injuries and pain this type of landing encouraged, it also limited the shock absorption and elastic energy (spring) a runner could get if they let the heel touch down. To this day there are still a small number of runners I see affecting this practice, even at a slow jogging pace. Funnily, Pose originator Nicolas Romanoff now advocates letting the heel touch. (See his latest book The Running Revolution) Learning to find the sweet spot in landing gives runners more bang for their buck by encouraging the body’s natural stretch/shorten response, a low cost way of absorbing the shock of the landing and getting off the ground. Invariably, this includes letting the heel touch the ground before rebounding off.
SLOW CADENCE: Some runners seem to take forever to get from one leg to the other. This can’t be efficient. Try it using a metronome. Start around 70 beats/steps per minute per leg and see how if feels. Gradually move up until you get to 100 and then move back down. You might be pleasantly surprised to find you are more comfortable taking quicker steps than you realized. When this starts to feel normal you’ll find you can run a bit faster without any more effort. Learning to walk with a quicker cadence can help, especially for folks who’s walking pace has slowed to more of a saunter than a walk.
SHORT STRIDE: Sometimes you see runners taking quite a short stride. If you look at their pelvis, it barely moves, staying square, perhaps in the same position they find themselves seated in at the desk or table… It’s really hard to lengthen the stride if your pelvis doesn’t move. Try stepping behind with your pelvis locked and then let it rotate a bit and notice how much further your foot can extend. A long stride opens up behind you and a fixed pelvis will limit your range and therefore your potential.
So if the idea of running more efficiently, getting more return for your ‘energy investment’, and perhaps improving your performance sounds attractive, then consider attending the next Art of Running Clinic where we will help you ‘leave less money on the table!”