Three Ways to Improve Your Running
The Pose Method is used in distances varying between 800m to 5Km, running at an average pace. Once we start sprinting or running longer (or slower) distances, then our stride shape might change. The Pose Method helps us do a few things. Pulling the heel up even with our knee helps us activate and use our glutes more while running, which ultimately helps us to avoid a quad pump from longer runs. Keeping our foot under our midline helps us avoid heel striking. When we heel strike, it acts as a brake and places more strain on our knees, hips, and lower back instead of using our calves. When we use our calves, it helps dissipate some of that energy. Using this method allows us to conserve energy and run more efficiently. Holding these shapes also helps us keep our cadence and breathing rhythm steady and repeatable.
Most accomplished distance runners hold above a 180 SPM. Keeping the SPM range helps us lessen our ground contact time (which means both our feet are in the air for a longer period of time relative to having a lower SPM) without overstriding. I have found this helps not only my running training but also my functional fitness training. It allows me to keep my speed without having to consume more energy while running before I perform other movements such as cleans, squats, pull-ups, or other movements. If you ever wanted to test what it feels like to run at this cadence just download a metronome on your phone and set it to 180 BPM. Make each foot strike batch a tick of the metronome. For most of us, this will feel fast and potentially awkward, but practicing this over time will make us more efficient and even safer runners!
Our breathing rhythm helps us stay relaxed and keep the movement sustainable for us aerobically. I have learned that I like to have my exhale longer than my inhale, this helps me stay calm and keep my nervous system relaxed. For example, I breathe in for 3 strikes then out for 4 strikes. If I am tired, I will change it to breathing in for 2 strikes and out for 3 strikes. To get this down you have to practice. To practice, focus on your breath and only that while you run.
Running is one of the most basic and functional movements we have outside of walking. Almost all of us can improve our running by focusing on these three aspects; pose method, running cadence (SPM), and our breathing rhythm. This type of focus and improvement will carry over to your running, and your functional fitness training. Allowing you to become a more efficient energy user and carry over to any longer duration running workout such as a half marathon. Next time we run in class or when you’re out running on your own, try and focus on one of these aspects (don’t try to juggle all three at once). I am excited to see how these changes have helped me both improve my times in class workouts and in some competition-style workouts that I am looking forward to doing at some point this summer.