Last year I did a 1/2 Ironman with Mark on a Saturday morning. A friend of ours challenged us to do it with him, so we packed up some sugars and hopped in the pool early that morning.
The swim and bike was fine, but man… we started to fall apart on the run. We ran the St. George Marathon earlier that year, so this honestly came by surprise to us. The muscle stiffness and cramping that ensued on that Ironman trial later became a call-to-arms on relearning the basics. I learned that my running mechanics were a large contributor to a poor performance that Saturday morning.
At RxFIT, we spend so much time on making sure we have vertical shins in the split jerk, a hollow-body on the handstand, and externally-rotated shoulders on the snatch… but we don’t talk much about running. This is an oversight on my end.
But running in general, especially in the crossfit world, is one of those movements that people will purposely skip if they see it programmed for the day. For most people, they would rather do burpees than run 800-meters! This needs to end.
My hope is that with a few of these tips, running will eventually become effortless and enjoyable like it has become for me.
1. Eyes Forward and Down
Similar to a back squat or deadlift, you want your eyes to be out on the ground 15-20 meters in front of you. The actual distance doesn’t matter as long as the neck maintains a neutral spine. This will help you stay braced throughout the midline and avoid stiffness in long runs.
2. Shoulders Relaxed
Keep the shoulders down and back. Think of your form when you’re stringing together double-unders; we want a relaxed upper-body.
3. Hands Don’t Crossover
Thumbs should be up and moving forward and back. The reason I say “thumbs-up” is because it becomes awkward to have your hands crossover. We don’t want to cross our body with our arms; this creates wasted effort (see video for a demonstration).
4. Extend the Hip
All athletic movement begins with the hip flexed and ends with the hip extended. Use the hips! Think about jumping, punching, throwing, sprinting, rowing, and even swimming… the hip needs to flex and extend in order to generate more power! Running moderate-to-long distances should not be any different. The faster you extend the hip, the faster your body will move.
5. Foot Lands Under Hip
Similar to a handstand, we need to be careful not to overstride. Overstriding causes the heel to touch the ground first (“heel-strike”) and slows you down. Attempt to land somewhere between the middle and ball of the foot every hip, never allowing your toes to be out in front of your shoulders.
Here’s a video further demonstrating these five cues: