Running Technique - running analysis

Let's discuss a little about taking a run analysis, why running technique is important to work on and some characteristics of running that we analyse here at RUNFLOW.  It’s not going to be exhaustive and it’ll be made fairly simple to understand (we hope).

Why improve running technique?

We all want to get faster at running and the more experience we gain, we learn that running certain types of running sessions at certain times will help our fitness.  However, many don’t consider improving their running form through running technique analysis and many I speak to think that we need a laboratory setting with expensive equipment. This is not the case and if anything, for 99% of us, we get too much complicated data in a lab setting when testing the everyday runner.  It’s in the lab that we do the research to get the complicated data so us running specialists can extract that data and use it more simply to help runners. A simple 2D video running analysis of side, rear and sometimes front views in normal and slow motion plus knowledge of the runners history is more than adequate.

There are those that believe running technique will come naturally the more you run and those that believe it is a skill and needs to be trained.  Both approaches have merit, but for me having worked with runners for many years both injured and non-injured I can say that many (not all) who have been running for several years have still needed small or very large adjustments to their running technique to either improve their running performance and/or prevent running injuries occuring.  In my experience, these runners are often those that have decided to take running up as an adult after having been quite sedentary for many years or have just maybe focussed on sports other than endurance running in their past. Those that have been running with a run club through their teens are less likely to need help with their general technique but often need more specific analysis and an in depth history if previous injuries have been sustained.  

How many elite runners practice running technique drills?  All of them, why? Because they know how important it is to run with good technique.  Running is a skill just like other sports and to become good at it you need to break it down and practice it to get the correct running form. If elite runners do it, then non elite runners should also be working towards improving their run technique.

Run analysis

Let’s get straight into it.  Here are some of the characteristics we look at:

Cadence (step rate) and stride/step length - Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute and stride length is the distance from one foot back to that same foot. Step length is the distance from one foot to the other.

Posture - You might see different definitions from experts about this, but consider it as the general whole body posture you make throughout the gait cycle when running.  You can view it at different parts of the cycle to see if it is where it needs to be. For example, at the ‘toe off’ position you could view the whole body to see if you have the typical tall gentle forward lean from the floor that the elites have.

Stride width - This is the width between your two feet often viewed from the rear.  

Foot placement - This is where the foot lands in relation to the rest of the body and can tell you if the person has an overstride or not.

Foot strike & transition- The part of the foot that strikes the ground is known as someone’s foot strike. You will have heard of a ‘heel strike’, ‘midfoot strike’ and a ‘forefoot strike’. It’s a bit more complicated than this because it’s more like one continuum with timing and loading of the strike and this is where the transitioning comes in.  The transition is what happens from the part of the foot that strikes, to the rest of the foot that follows during the strike.

Others include vertical oscillation (bounce), hip pull and push, arm action, spinal torsion, contact time and much much more.  

It’s very important to know that the above all interact with one another and therefore it’s best to make a change with as little characteristics as possible as they will interact and improve the other characteristics.  Running at the research level is complicated, luckily though it doesn't have to be when improving your technique in everyday life and here at Runflow,  we aim to make running simple for you.

What will you get with our running analysis?

For your run analysis here at runflow we provide you with a detailed questionnaire to gain information such as your running injury history, running experience, running technique changes in the past etc. With this questionnaire we’ll give you a guide explaining how to video yourself running and easily share it with us so we can then go ahead and analyse your running. We’ll provide feedback using simple graphical analysis in normal and slow motion with voice over, and with this you’ll get a written report. You’ll receive exercises, cues, drills and advice that you can go away with and make changes to your running.  After a short period of time, you can send in a new video with these changes and we’ll do a further video review and short report to give you an update on how you are getting on and you can then go away and practice some more!