Natural running is all about feet, form, and whole body freedom. The key is running in a relaxed manner and having the awareness to touch the ground lightly with each footstep, lifting quickly on every stride. Combined with an upright posture and a compact arm swing, this swing, this stride leads to the optimally efficient running mechanics your body is predisposed to, which can result in less impact and fewer rotational forces on the foot and body.–natural running by Danny Abshire
These are the points that I look at and try to correct when working with a client. I find that in many cases, runners are much heavier on their feet than is necessary. In fact, the lighter on the feet we are the better. Our footfalls should be barely audible, a light tap-tapping. The challenge is to find the balance between prancing and plodding. Lifting the knees helps with getting the feet off the ground quickly, but too much lift results in an over expenditure of energy. Being relaxed while running is important, but our movements should be controlled at the same time. And then there’s the arm swing. Believe it or not, this is probably one of the most challenging aspects of natural running. The arms should rest at a 90 degree angle at the waist, swinging back and forth like a pendulum. The hands should be relaxed, but not dangle–more like holding something delicate in your fingertips; again, relaxed yet controlled. And we mustn’t forget cadence, the rate at which the feet touch the ground. An ideal running cadence is 180 steps per minute, which can feel pretty fast at first and consequently more tiring. Once the body adapts, however, the 180 cadence becomes second nature and next thing you know, you are gliding toward your destination without much effort. That’s when the real fun begins!
With so much room for improvement, one may question just how “natural” natural running is! At the end of the day, we are training the body to run in a way that is naturally best, in a way that creates a harmony in the body, which ultimately translates to greater efficiency and speed, and less propensity for injury.
It is with these things in mind that I began working with my client Melanie, who is a triathlete. Melanie has decided to step up her game this year and has been working on honing her skills in all three disciplines. Happily, she came to me to improve her running. We met in four 1-hour sessions.
Here is a short “before” video of my first session with Melanie.
The main points we worked on during our time together were getting her to land more on her mid foot and less on her heel, tightening up her arm swing, quickening her cadence, and bringing her posture into more of an upright position.
Here she is after four sessions:
Much better! You can see that she is now coming down on her mid foot, her arms are swinging closer to her body, her cadence is higher and her feet are landing with more control, and she is in a more upright position. The best part is that Melanie is enjoying running more now than she did 4 weeks ago!