I was incredibly stoked about this clinic. I was really looking forward to some tips on improving the way I run. For the most part, I think I have the will, desire and determination. It was time to look at my technical style.
The instructor took a few minutes to cover the basics. He discussed the importance of posture (standing straight with relaxed arms and shoulders), mid-foot striking, cadence (striving for 180 steps per minute) and forward leaning (just slightly, while running).
After sharing this information, he lined us up and had us run past a small video camera on the floor. It took a few minutes for the 15 or so of us to finish our turns. Due to the time change, and lack of sunlight at 6:00 PM, we were confined to a kind of cramped area, but I think it was enough for our purposes.
One by one, our strides were replayed, paused and reviewed. The majority of people were heel-strikers, and were advised to work on landing on their mid-foot. Some were leaning too far back, some were overstriding. In slow-motion on the big screen, it was fairly easy to see the flaws in our respective form.
It was somewhat surprising to see that I was one of the mid-foot strikers. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I felt like I was doing something right. The instructor pointed out that I did have a little bit of a bounce in my stride that I could work on eliminating.
When we had all received our critiques, the instructor showed us proper cadence. With the use of a small metronome, he had us jog in place to the somewhat peppy beat of 180 steps per minute. We then moved to a quick run around the (dark) parking lot and finally, we made another pass of the camera. The majority of us were able to adjust our form by the second go-round, and I feel like we all left with a good sense of areas on which to improve and things to keep in mind for the future.
Cadence made a world of difference for me. It helped me shorten up my stride and somehow felt more efficient. When I put it into practice for a seven mile run two days later, I felt like I had so much more energy and stamina. My moves felt so much more controlled and powerful. What an improvement!
If you are in the vicinity of a 1st Place Sports or similar store that offers these free clinics, I highly recommend you attend. You can read about good form and study the diagrams, but it’s really helpful to have someone working with you to point out the things that might specifically help you be the best runner you can.