This is part two of a two-part series on running form analysis and what you can do to help improve your running form. You can find part one HERE.
Last week I shared before and after photos of my running form analysis. There was a significant amount of improvement both in my cadence, heel strike and overstriding. There were several things I focused on in the three week period between the before and after analysis: increasing cadence, form drills and glute and hip exercises.
1. Cadence. Optimal running cadence, according to Jack Daniels, is 180 steps per minute. You can roughly figure out your current running cadence by counting the number of times your right foot lands in a minute then multiplying by two. During my initial running assessment my cadence was about 168. I spent three weeks running with a metronome. You can easily download a metronome app to your phone and listen to it with head phones or just stick it in your pocket like I did, or set it on the treadmill.
Initially I set the cadence of 175 and worked up every other run or so until I was running with it set at 180 bpm. When I hopped on the treadmill at they physical therapist for my “after” assessment my cadence was 178 with no metronome. I continue to run occasionally with the metronome to remind myself of what 180 bpm feels like. It can be good to practice on a treadmill at varying paces as well. If you’re an overstrider, quickening your cadence will help your foot fall underneath you instead of out in front of you.
2. Form Drills. Form drills are often forgotten or pushed to the side during training because the focus is on the run and the miles. But working on your form is what will improve every run. Instead of listing the each exercises I’ve put together a little video quickly demonstrating each one. For the most part you’ll want to do 2-3 sets of 20 reps of each, with exception to butt kicks, toe taps and high knees for those you’ll want to do sets of 50-100. If you can find time to do these drills 2-3 times a week, you’ll notice significant improvement.
3. Hip and Glute Strengthening Exercises. Most running injuries and bad form can be traced to muscular imbalances and weakness in the hips and glutes. Strengthening these areas will not only make you a stronger runner, but could very well decrease your susceptibility to overuse injuries as well. Here are a few exercises that will help improve your form by strengthening weak areas in the hips and glutes. Perform these exercises 2-3 times a week in sets of 2-3 with 10-20 reps on each side as described in the video.
After focusing on these three things I noticed a significant improvement in my form over a three week period. I’ve also continued to work on these things even though I’m no longer in physical therapy for any specific injury. I know that continuing with these drills even when not injured will help strengthen me as a runner and make me more efficient, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you.
Have you ever tried to modify your cadence or form? What drills or tricks did you use to do so?
Sarah is a certified running coach with the RRCA and USATF. She and her husband Mark Canney, CPT CSCS collaborate in coaching clients of all ages and abilities to help them reach their running goals. You can learn more about their coaching services HERE.
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Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com
Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney