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Running Basics

Natural Running

Running light-footed and injury-free with the optimal technique! We will show you the essential elements to approach the style closest to the way nature intended: Running is jumping!

Fortified core muscles and a stable upper body guarantee optimum power transmission into running direction. Stay "big and strong" and avoid buckling in the hip on landing. Place your foot parallel to the running direction. Also make sure that your arm movement is correct, because the arms are the "metronome” of our legs. They should swing loose and relaxed without crossing over in the direction of the chest. If the arm movement is not pronounced enough, you will move your shoulders and thus rotate your upper body too!

The interplay of the muscles in running

How our bodies act

  • In the support phase (1) the muscles that keep us upright, i.e. the buttocks, the front thigh and the calf muscle (a muscle sling, the so-called "leg extensor sling" {A}) assume the forces acting on our bodies (e.g. by the gravitational force).
  • Due to the elastic properties of muscles, an improved kick is generated in the phase of leg extension through the applied forces. (2)
  • The vertical portion of this optimized power pulse leads to a more intense flight phase of the body (3), which is mainly characterized by relaxation.
  • This relaxation also results from a reflex contraction of the “leg extension sling" {B} (the hip flexors, hamstrings and shin muscles) due to the previous maximum hip and knee extension.
  • In the swing phase of the leg (4 +5) the heel kicks up toward your buttocks. Through this centring of the leg mass around the axis of rotation (= hips) the angular momentum is increased without substantial expense of energy.
  • At the end of the back swing (5) a relaxed knee lift (because of the heel alternating close to the buttocks) is introduced and the forward swinging of the lower leg begins (6).
  • Before planting the foot, the knee is slightly bent, and the ground contact is made beneath the body’s centre of gravity (7).
  • In the next support phase (1) the muscles (the leg extension sling) are again stretched due to the applied forces and can fulfil their natural role for absorbing, supporting and accelerating.

Running ABCs

Technique exercises to improve your running-motion structure

Dribbling

Ex.1 - In this exercise hold a standing position and imitate the beginning of the support phase for running.

Lift up the heel of a leg and roll from the balls of the foot to the heels, while the other leg remains fixed. Repeat this procedure with the other leg, try to change legs in a fluid movement to and increase the frequency. With this simple exercise you will above all improve your coordination skills and be able to visualize the beginning of the support phase.

Exercise time: approx. 20-30 seconds, 3-5 repetitions

Skipping

Ex. 2 - Bring your knees up towards your chest, alternating, and land on the ball of the foot under your centre of gravity.

Make sure to keep an upright posture, a relaxed foot and a rhythmic motion. Avoid leaning your body backwards to relieve the hip flexion. This rather power-oriented exercise especially improves the knee lift as an important aspect of a "circular stride" and also helps to avoid a foot-planting stride.

Exercise time: approx. 10-20 seconds, 2-3 repetitions

Kick-Backs

Ex. 3 - When kicking back your heels, bring your heels up to your buttocks in an energetic motion.

Be sure to keep a rhythmic alternation of legs, an upright posture and put your foot on the balls of your feet under the body. This exercise mimics a central aspect of an economic swing phase and should be incorporated into training very regularly.

Exercise time: approx. 15-20 seconds, 3-5 repetitions

Vertical Jumps

Ex.4 - From a very slow run you try to jump in the air only using a short, intense power push by each leg.

Support your leg extension by active arm work without the arms swinging out too far in front or behind the body. The exercise is designed to improve leg extension and should always be incorporated into a continuous run.

Exercise time: approx. 30-80 meters, 2-3 repetitions

Jump Stride

Ex.5 - Increase your running tempo and transition into striding jumps.

When doing so, try to jump for both altitude and for distance. In addition to an impulsive leg extension, the preceding hip extension is characteristic for the jump stride. Pay attention also to an optimal knee lift of the other leg and an active pumping of the arms. The jumping stride concentrates all important elements for optimizing your running style and is a technically and physically very demanding exercise. Therefore the easier Running ABC’s exercises should be mastered first.

Exercise time: approx. 20-50 meters, 2-3 repetitions

How much is too much? Is your training and recovery in harmony?

Like almost everything in life, it all depends on a healthy balance. But while we are very active in influencing our training times and are well equipped with heart rate monitor and exercise plan, when it comes to organising our resting times we are often very passive. It is of but little use to wait for rest and relaxation. Making the transition from stress to relaxation and vice versa should be just as active.


Actively relax!

True relaxation and thus the best possible preparation for a renewed effort only sets in when we are quite conscious of it. It is irrelevant which relaxation technique we use, whether sauna or spa oases, whether bioenergetics or autogenic training or a simple stroll. The relaxation sets in when the inner setting matches the outer. So actively unwind and train your ability to recover. However, do not confuse relaxation with distraction!

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