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Changing running style?! (Read 1205 times)

    I have been running for over 10 years using a relatively structured approach to training. That is, using training plans from running books and I have read a lot about running. 8 and 9 years ago, I had my fastest racing times and already then had a hope of breaking the 3-hours for a marathon.

     

    However, since 2005, I have had a lot of injuries, tendonitis, PF and problems with my right knee. Probably some of the first injuries came from training too many intervals and having too little recovery or missing to run easy trips at a sufficiently slow pace. A typical and probably natural way of having injuries was for example, 2005 PF in my left foot, 2006 tendonitis in my right foot and so on. This pattern at least continues as you will see a little later.

     

    In late 2011 I had a bad injury in my right knee and had to drop out of a fall marathon and have a quite long break from running with physiotherapy treatment.

     

    In general, I have run about 45 miles a week in average for marathon training. In April, I ran a HM in 1.29 and knew that a good way to try to get close to breaking the 3-hours was to increase mileage but by running a lot of slow training; therefore, I followed some of John Hadd's ideas and ran 60 miles per week right until the beginning of this week. First it was really good and I could see that my performance was on its way up. However, introducing fast runs as the fall marathon was approaching was a strain on both my right knee and my left tendon where I was getting sore. Within the last week 4 persons told me that I was humping when running and asked if I was injured. On Wednesday I decided to postpone running a marathon and get rid of my injuries. The idea was a few weeks with very little running and then do a lot of strength training for my legs and cycle a bit. At the gym I headed for the treadmill and wanted to run just 2 km in my VFF (I use very light shoes in general) at a slow pace. Everything was great, no problems with the knee or tendon. Having cycled some more, I just wanted to run 2 km more; here my right calf became very sore and I had to stop running.

     

    I really love to run but I'm tired of injuries. I know that my running style sucks and I have thought of attending a seminar on pose running because this could perhaps be a way to get rid of injuries. Getting a better running style would probably minimise the risk of injury. I hope to be able to run +60 miles within a month or two again and then be ready for a marathon in May. Does the idea with a seminar sound stupid? Please advice. And yes you are right, a lot of the injuries are due to incorrect training from my side!


    Feeling the growl again

      First of all, POSE is complete snake oil.  The concept that you can "fall forward" and somehow become immune to the laws of physics lies at the center of the method.  Save your money.

       

      I wish I could give you a sure fire way to get rid of the injuries but it's hard to say what the root cause is.  It could be the way you run; it could be imbalances in strength; it could be residual effects of a permanent injury to your knee and resulting compensations elsewhere; only a skilled person examining you FTF would be able to determine (if then).

       

      Often, one injury leads the body to compensate and reduce stress on the joint/muscle/tendon etc.  Often it's subconscious and you won't even realize you are doing it.  Over time, this leads to over-stressing other things, and a daisy chain of injuries that move around seemingly at random...often alternating from one side of the body to the other...is the result.

       

      The best thing to do is break the chain.  Try to find out what you can do without incurring injury and resist the urge to do too much/too often until you have been injury-free for several months.  Then slowly work back.  Avoid temptation to set goal races and force things in order to meet those goals.  Good races will come easier if you can put the injuries behind you.

       

      What was the "serious injury" to your right knee?

      "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

       

        Consider finding a PT who treats runners. They might do a gait analysis or identify some other underlying cause for your injuries. Also, do you do any strength/stability training?

          You can't make drastic changes in a short time without hurting yourself.  I think everyone needs to strive to improve their form and other aspects of their running, but the changes should be incremental, tiny, even. As you are running, a relaxed, comfortable form is much more important than speed, especially in the long term.  Also, one should avoid slavishly trying to achieve particular mileage goals, and let your body tell you what it's ready to handle.  It might demand 4-5 days per week rather than 6-7.  It might be fine with 50 one week, but only 30 the next.  Most plans are just too mechanical; the body's needs vary a lot depending on a lot of factors.  Be kind to it.

          Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

            Thanks for your input. Spaniel, I totally agree with you saying that some of the injuries probably are due to imbalances. Every time I've had an injury on my left leg, it is almost sure that something will happen with my right leg. My wife also says that I have always run in a rather crooked way and that it seems as if there is not a good co-ordination between my feet and legs. It seems as if my running style (or lack of the same) doesn't have very much momentum. Right back in 2004 when I ran my fastest 5K, the former chairman of my running club told me that he found my running style just awful...

            ´

            When I don't have any injuries, I don't do any strength training (bad idea); so since April and until a week ago, there was no strength training. However, for the past 6 weeks, I've done exercises for my tendons and will continue to do this. Stretching has also become part of my training recently.

             

            The idea with learning a running style would be to have a very skilled person help find and correct errors. Former Danish elite marathon runner Allan Zachariasen who has attended the POSE course to which I referred finds that it is a way of running which is definitely interesting for people who have had a lot of injuries. I just also think that focusing on a high stride rate, letting your feet land under your body instead of in front of it could lead to an improvement in running style.

             

            At least the next week will be with a lot of cycling, strength training and a little running on the treadmill in my VFF. After this, I will consult a running expert and also let one of my friends take a video of my running.

              I think it's tricky and/or potentially injurious to try to change your running style.

               

              Having said that I do believe there is something to be said for small, light, quick steps. This is what I would do if I was trying to make a change - deliberately make sure that my leg speed was pretty high, and not worry too much about anything else. Obviously when you're running easily your stride length would be relatively short - but don't worry about it.

              DoppleBock


                I have been working on this for the last 2 years - I struggled for those 2 years.  My biggest issue is to get fluid and comfortable with the stride.  To get all the little muscles etc strong enough to run fast with this different position is taking forever.

                 

                I am finally at a time where I am naturally in the new stride - But if I concentrate really hard, I can get my further back and still hill strike / shuffle stride.  This can still be of use to me in 24 hour racing where it is advantageous to change up you stride for periods of time.

                 

                I started running as a 300# person - That might be the reason I gravitated to a heal striking shuffle stride.  My achillies tendons would have never taken a forefoot stride.  My weight was nutral at best and likely a little back from neutral.

                 

                I have been working on moving to a mid-foot strike with weight and body position forward. 

                 

                I used to throw out shoes when the heal was worn out.  The last 5 pair of shoes I have thrown out because just forward of the mid-foot area is worn out ... heals still look really good.

                 

                Right or wrong ?  Not sure, but it was a long road and I think it will take another year before I really see what it will do for my race results.

                 

                When I get really tired in races I often revert back to something closer to the old style.

                http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                 

                  I agree that a technique change is a slippery slope...but if you aren't using/activating the right muscles in the right way then it might be worth exploring a bit.  About a month ago I began the process and so far I'm having a lot of success.  Do you have weak glutes/hamstrings? 

                   

                  Check out the e-book called Running Technique by Brian Martin.  It's not Pose or Chi and isn't a quick fix change (these don't exist) but instead focuses on the strength and coordination needed to run with good mechanics and explains the entire running gait in an understandable way.

                   

                  Good luck!

                  DoppleBock


                    Not sure if this was directed at me - But I started running the way I did because it minimized the impact (Shuffle stride) of being very over weight - I actually ran a 2:45:58 marathon that way.  Currently - I do not if I have weak glutes or hamstrings.  With my weight more forward and landing mid-foot it puts more work on my quads - When they fatigue out in a race situation I tend to bring the weight more nuetral.

                     

                      Do you have weak glutes/hamstrings? 

                     

                    http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                    2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                     

                      pfetro: Thanks for your book recommendation. I will try to buy and read it. However, I'm sure that this is not enough for me as it is very difficult to see if you, for example, are doing some wrong movements. No weight problems on my side which could negatively influence my running; 185 cm and just below 72 kg.

                        pfetro: Thanks for your book recommendation. I will try to buy and read it. However, I'm sure that this is not enough for me as it is very difficult to see if you, for example, are doing some wrong movements. No weight problems on my side which could negatively influence my running; 185 cm and just below 72 kg.

                         

                        Hey pabstars, I had the same concerns but the author does a nice job of guiding you through the process and advises a gait analysis or video so you have something to work with.

                         

                        Getting an actual gait analysis might be your best bet, but either way I think that seeing yourself running is very eye-opening.  I read the book first and then recorded myself on a treadmill.  I found it very easy to identify my shortcomings.

                         

                         

                        DB, I was directing that questions at pabstars but I think strong glutes are necessary for all runners.  Knowing of your running heroics I'm sure you are stronger than most us on here!

                        DoppleBock


                          I think its all about balance of strength and if my glutes (or any muscle) are weaker than the rest - It will be a problem.  I was wondering about this for awhile as I was having re-occuring Hamstring issues.  But after talking to the PT at work - He asked if I ever had a serious pull or tear and I have not.  So we decided it was most likely I had become really inflexible in my hamstrings and I have been faithful in stretching since and no issues.

                           

                          I do think this is the biggest risk in adjusting stride - You might have a good balance of muscle strength for your current stride, but are too weak in an area for the adjusted stride. 

                           

                          DB, I was directing that questions at pabstars but I think strong glutes are necessary for all runners.  Knowing of your running heroics I'm sure you are stronger than most us on here!

                          http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                          2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                           


                          Feeling the growl again

                            The idea with learning a running style would be to have a very skilled person help find and correct errors. Former Danish elite marathon runner Allan Zachariasen who has attended the POSE course to which I referred finds that it is a way of running which is definitely interesting for people who have had a lot of injuries. I just also think that focusing on a high stride rate, letting your feet land under your body instead of in front of it could lead to an improvement in running style.

                             

                            At least the next week will be with a lot of cycling, strength training and a little running on the treadmill in my VFF. After this, I will consult a running expert and also let one of my friends take a video of my running.

                             

                            To clarify, if the end of the process is a form that gets you to high stride rate and midfoot/under COM landing, that's great.  However, don't drink the snake oil on the way there.  Smile

                             

                            I am sure there are gait analysis personnel available that won't try to sell you the negative to get you to the positive. 

                             

                            FWIW my form changed significantly over time...mostly as a result of high mileage.  When your body gets tired it tries to adapt, even subconsciously, to reduce effort and stress.  For most people this will result in a more efficient stride. 

                             

                            I have seen a lot of runners think that to get faster or run stronger they need to use longer strides.  The teaching is that longer strides don't make you faster, getting faster leads you to use longer strides.  In other words, start with short/efficient strides at slower speeds and as you gain the fitness to run faster your stride will naturally extend while maintaining efficiency.  Forcing a longer stride will not help anything.

                             

                            Best of luck.

                            "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                             

                            DoppleBock


                              This is what I am working on - There is a local running store that does analysis, but you have to be part of their training group.  I would like to have this done to get an outside opinion of where I am for this.  I seem to have not yet figured out the right body position - I think I am pretty close.  When I am running fast intervals I sometimes end up just a week bit forward and I can tell when I move back every so slightly the stride gets easier and faster ... to far back and it gets clunky. 

                               

                               

                              To clarify, if the end of the process is a form that gets you to high stride rate and midfoot/under COM landing, that's great. 

                              http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                              2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                               

                                Good points DB and Spaniel...balance is key.  My glutes/hamstrings were significantly weaker than my quads.  That is now changing and I can really tell a difference.  My calves/feet are taking some added stress as they adapt to my new form - so yes, I need to have a better balance which is why I had really reduce my mileage to rebuild the necessary strength.

                                 

                                My updated technique is basically learning to use my posterior muscles as primary movers, with a midfoot landing under COM, short quick stride (~180 per minute) and improved back/shoulder posture.

                                 

                                Prior to this, my lack of glute/hamstring strength was causing me to overcompensate with my quads, land too far out in front of my COM and cause a lot of extra pounding and twisting/torque.  My weak glutes also caused my knee to collapse inward bit too much (caused ITB and hip stress). 

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