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Why is it so important to learn good running technique?

Because running, according to Dr. Nicholas Romanov, as any other movement, is an art that should be learned and perfected. And while strength, speed and endurance always have individual limits, the technique of movement can be perfected infinitely.

This latter fact will allow the runner to drastically increase endurance by lowering the body metabolism 30-50%, and oxygen consumption up to 20%. As a result, exercise heart rates will be lowered as well.

Most importantly, effective running technique lowers the possibility of injuries and increases running speed. Despite all this, most people think "I already know how to run," and never spend one second on technique during all the hours they spend running.

What exactly do we mean by running technique, and, particularly, its effectiveness? First of all, by running technique we refer to a specific system of body movements and its parts, aimed at a horizontal transfer - from point A to point B. And here we measure efficiency by one of the most important indices: energy expenditures. That is, the lower the energy expenditures, with all other indices (speed or distance) being equal, the more effective our technique is.

Gravity As A Friend

Dr Romanov's point of view considers running as a free-falling of the body, secured by alternating support from one leg to the other. The body falls due to gravitational forces and the quantity of movement (momentum = mv), which moves the body forward. The basic principle of this technique is "do nothing, don't interfere" - which reflects the minimization of energy expenses.

Of course, we can't avoid all energy expenditures, so we are talking about minimizing ATP energy expenses, which are used for active contraction of muscles. You should understand that any movement, including running, is performed on the bases of interaction of two groups of forces: 1) gratuitous (without using ATP) and 2) muscular contractions (using ATP breakdown as its energy source). The ratio between these two groups of forces is what defines the effectiveness of running technique.

Hypothetically speaking, we could call these forces external and internal, and could compare the external ones to the wind and internal to the actions of the sailor, who directs the sails to catch a near headwind to move his boat forward. In this case, the speed of movement is defines not so much by the strength of the athlete, but his or her ability to use the external forces for his own purposes.

We proceed here from the fact that movement and moving forces are all around and inside us, they only are frozen, deterred or stopped with the help of our muscles. And in order to cause movement, one must release the body from muscular tension for free-falling and then return the body to some height using muscular contraction. Simply stated, since your support alternates from one leg to another, the leg that's falling needs to be relaxed as gravity brings it down and the leg that's pushing off does so very quickly with just enough exertion to raise the leg to a height reflective of your current speed (pace).

In this sense, alternation of support from one leg to another is simply reproducing the cycle of your falling body, where speed depends on how quickly this cycle is reproduced. Figuratively speaking, the legs are running under the body, preventing it from falling to the ground completely and lifting the body's center of mass a minimal height (3-4 cm with the best runners), which is enough even for the speediest sprint running, to say nothing of long distance running.

The POSE Method

Active muscular work with this running technique (which is called the POSE method) is performed only in one place on support (in the running pose), by the muscles of back surface of the thigh (the hamstring), drawing the foot along the vertical line under the pelvis. And this movement per se, breaking contact with the ground, triggers the interaction of all external forces for the whole cycle of a running stride. The rest of the stride requires no active work!

Thus, the concrete elements of the running technique may be summed up simply. First of all, running is basically a change of support from one leg to another, which should be done with legs always bent at the knees. The feet should always be kept under the General Center of Mass (GCM) of the body. The legs should always land on the balls of the feet (mid-foot) and the heels should stay a centimeter or so above the ground.

Second, you should never straighten your legs and never move them forward.

Third, you should just try to pick up your ankles under the hips (hamstring work).

Fourth, don't be concerned about the stride length and range of motion - just maintain the frequency of strides

Fifth, you should not use your legs to move your body forward. You have to allow your body to move forward by itself and not interfere with this movement. You can imagine your movement as an uninterrupted free-fall forward with the change of support (on your feet) serving to check this fall.

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