Working On Run Mechanics Through The Winter

Tips To Master Your Run Form!

Fall and winter are generally regarded as the triathlon off-season but this doesn’t mean it has to be an off-season for training. These cooler months are the perfect time to focus specific training on areas that need improvement as well as hone your technical skills.

When the competition season comes to an end, if running is something that you’re looking to improve upon, consider switching your focus to running for two to three months. Having a goal event to work towards is a great way to stay motivated and there are plenty of running races to choose from at this time of year. Single sport racing is also a great way to gain valuable experience for next year’s triathlon season as well as a fun and challenging way to push yourself to the limit.

This doesn’t mean that you have to stop cycling and swimming, you can maintain those with one or two workouts each per week, just put more emphasis on your running. You can do this by keeping your other workouts easier and scheduling your hardest runs after a day off or a swim the previous day so that your legs feel fresh and ready to work at full capacity. Make sure that you don’t go hard for every workout, it’s important to work all of your body’s energy zones. Each workout should have a purpose.

One area that you can work on at this time of year is technique. Run technique is often overlooked by many athletes since when it comes down to it, with running, all you really need to do is lace up your shoes and head out the door. Well, it’s not quite so simple. Running is actually very technical, with many subtleties that can have a big impact on your efficiency. The same as with cycling and swimming, it’s not only about how much output you have, it’s also about how much energy you can save for a given speed.

As well as the technical aspects, the way you mentally approach your running can also have either a positive or a negative effect on your performance. Focusing on negative thoughts can amplify these feelings and effect your physical capacity. When you’re working hard, avoid focusing on what’s difficult and instead focus on what’s good. Avoid thinking about how hard your legs are working as you push off with each stride and instead think about the recovery phase of you run stride where your legs are relaxed and loose. Think about your upper body and shoulders being relaxed and comfortable.

Below is a list of things to think about when you’re working to improve your running technique over the next few months.


o   Slight lean forward

§  The lean is subtle and comes from the ankles, not the hips

§  This helps to bring the center of gravity forward which help with proper foot strike and momentum

o   Elbows bent at 90 degrees

§  The focus is on pulling the elbows back and letting the stretch/reflex mechanism of the shoulder swing the arms forward in a relaxed manner

§  Think of your arms swinging on a pendulum

§  The shoulders should be relaxed and in a neutral position

§  Hands should be relaxed and swing freely to the front of the body

§  Avoid tensing up your arms and forearms

§  Arms can be allowed to bend slightly more than 90 degrees at the front

§  Avoid crossing your arms in front of your body causing body rotation

o   The leg should be moving backward when it strikes the ground

§  Pull your leg backwards with your hamstring muscles

§  Focus on having your foot strike under your center of gravity

§  Reduces the deceleration affect

§  Helps to maintain momentum

o   Focus on getting a full hip extension and engaging you glutes during the drive phase of the stride

§  The glutes and hips are a power muscle group, this is where most of the power and speed is generated

o   Focus on being relaxed through the Recovery Phase (aka: Swing Phase) of the stride

§  When you generate a full hip extension, your body’s natural stretch/reflex mechanism will help to pull you heels up and drive your leg forward, avoid forcing this part of the stride

o   Having a higher turnover will improve your overall running efficiency

§  180 steps per minute is a good number to aim for

§  Run cadence will vary from one person to the next

§  Some runners will run at race pace with a cadence of over 190 steps per minute

§  High cadence helps to reduce the impact force as well as the impact time and have a smoother run stride

§  Reduces the force requirements during the push off phase

§  Reduces vertical oscillation and helps to improve forward momentum

§  More energy is being used to move forward and less is wasted pushing your bodyweight up


Looking for more guidance with your run technique? Join Coach Powell and his team of runners for FREE every Tuesday evening at 6:00pm at the Kerrisdale Park Track in Vancouver.

LifeSport coach Andrew Powell is a NCCP certified triathlon coach who has coached numerous athletes to beat their PR and hit the podium. Andrew is a member of the Triathlon Board in Vancouver, BC. Contact Andrew to share your goals, race faster, or master the Ironman distance. Find more great training tips by joining us on;

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