Monday, May 9, 2011

Running Efficiency Tips (How not to run like a T-Rex)

I finally decided on my next race!  And even though I solicited advice on what to sign up for, I wasn't aware of secret option F until a day ago. So my apologies for picking something COMPLETELY off the list :(.  

Once Upon A Lime is doing two half marathons in 6 days, and the second one she signed up for, Fontana Days is just $35 AND is supposedly incredibly fast!  I saw it on her blog and wanted in on Fontana Dayz....(Daze?)

Fontana Days Half marathon will have a ridiculously early wake up time for me (have to be there by 5 AM!), and it's in like 4 weeks but why the heck not, right?  

So now onto the subject I want to talk about....running efficiency....

This morning, I was curious what my Wildflower Relay pics looked like, (you know, the good old Personal Worst Race) and came across this lovely photo:

Contrary to what it looks like, I am not trying the latest dance move called the "Dumb T Rex" where I put my non-strength trained arms as high up as possible and flail backwards with one while slightly twisting my torso.

No fact, I am trying to move forward in this picture, and being super inefficient!   

Before I write up the research, I want to qualify this by saying that I hear that Paula Radcliffe has a really inefficient looking stride and she's um....slightly fast.  However for mere mortals such as myself, I figure it's worth a try to see if I can get more efficient!

I decided to read up on some running form / efficiency tips and thought you might like to read about them too!

From a Running Times Article:

Coach and two-time olympic marathoner Pete Pfitzinger says that runners can improve their energy economy by 2-4 percent by working on running economy.
Some things that he says to watch out for:

"My observation of runners in road races is that hardly any of the elite runners overstride, but up to 20 percent of the runners slower than 40:00 for 10K overstride."  

Holding Arms Up/ Leaning Is No Bueno Either!
Leaning forward at the waist, which causes the quads to work harder to keep you from falling forward.
Holding the shoulders up or holding the arms tensely or holding the arms out to the side.

But Wait...Help is on the Way!
Ways to practice improving are to do "strides" where you practice "fast feet and low shoulders" for about 60-100 meters in the middle of a run. Focus on relaxing each part of your body and a quick efficient stride.  

Try Not To Heel Strike 
This article on suggests landing on the middle of your foot and trying to spend less time actually with your feet on the ground for better efficiency: running efficiency

Strength and Pytometrics Train
And Runners World says that strength exercises (especially core exercises) can help you stay efficient even when your body is getting tired in a can check out some of the exercises with this link...Runners World Efficiency Article

It sounds to me that stuff like Yoga / Pilates would be great for core training!

I think more than anything, I need to do some general strength training since I mainly start twisting and raising my arms at the end of a race, when my arms are more tired than my legs!  

Whatcha think?

Have you tried to improve your running form?  

Do you think trying to improve efficiency is a good way to spend time, or are we better off just putting in the miles and speed workouts?  


  1. Hola chica! This is a great post, I had to work on my running form after my first marathon, I ended with some bad knee pain and I realized it was how I was running, I was hunching and leaning over when I got tired during running and that was hurting me, so I am constantly thinking of keeping my shoulders and stomach up and my posture straight. It has helped tremendously!

  2. Thanks for the tips!
    Good luck on the Fontana Dayz!

  3. Helpful/informative tips Margs! Irad the RW article on Running Form last night and saw simiar statements!

  4. I really am working on minimizing my heel striking, I've read similar recommendations before. I'm not too successful though, it's tough to re-train!

    But they do say to make it a slow transition.

    The only thing that I'm wary of is that when my boyfriend starting doing mid-foot running, he developed terrible achilles tendonitis (one week before the Richmond marathon), which is still bothering him like 5 months after the initial insult....

  5. Thanks for the comment! I'm a follower now! :D

  6. Thanks for the training tips! I always find it tough to actually focus on my form during a run and feel the effects of it after. Seeing yourself in a picture mid-race is super helpful for this kind of thing. Good luck with Fontana!

  7. Ever since my husband started running barefoot he's made comments about my form, so I'm slowly trying to change to a midfoot strike instead of heel. It's tough, though, because I really like to zone out when I'm running and NOT pay attention.

  8. Runner's World had a whole article about running form recently... they called Radcliffe's form "Strangely Efficient"

    I have altered my running form to be more efficient, things like making sure I use a midfoot strike, increasing my cadence and working on my arm swing. I will always have things to work on though, that's the beauty of sports...

  9. Hi! Just found your blog YAY! great article and informative. I am always trying to improve my form. I feel like I am making some progress, really working on not heel striking right now.