Running is one of the few forms of exercise most people think they don’t need to get instructions and don’t need coaching. I was under that impression for many years and that kept me from running. Now I know that running is a skill but I also know that thinking too much about running and trying too much can get you into trouble.
This leaves us with a bit of problem, if you can’t think about what you do, how can you know that you are doing the right thing? Are we left with pain or no pain after running? In my opinion not overthinking is good but you do have to allow yourself to check what you are doing every once in a while. The better runner you become the more you can rely on your body to do the right thing.
The idea I want to put forward to you now is that using your ears while running is a good way of checking your form in some cases that does not put you out of balance as would happen if you would look down at your feet for example. Using your ears has the big advantage of that you don’t have to change your posture to get information.
Not all running posture problems can be detected with your ears but overstriding and everything that relates to sliding your feet along the surface can be easily detected when running on a gravel path.
Here is a summary of a few potential problems and associated auditory cues:
Overstriding is when you put your foot down in front of your body which breaks your forward momentum. Simply going over to landing on the forefoot is not a guarantee for not overstriding. In fact a lot of people who change from heel striking to forefoot landing often overstride in their effort to make sure that they land on the forefoot, I know I did.
The auditory cue to listen for is if there is friction noise at the time of impact, this means that the foot land and then slides forward. The impact is not then straight down into the ground and a lot of energy is wasted.
The trick not to overstride is to not focus on placing the foot on the ground, just let it fall to the ground, the foot will place itself. Keep runing on gravel paths and make adjustments to get rid of that friction sound.
2. Dragging the back foot
After placing the foot on the ground a lot of people simply forget about it and leave it to take care of itslef. This is a bad idea as leaving a foot hanging behind your centre of mass means you are out of balance and that puts extra strain on your body and you have to put effort into getting back into balance.
The auditory cue is a long friction sound when you lift the foot, this means that your heel is not pulled straight up under your body but moves bakwards before going upwards. Focus on pulling your heel straight up and listen for the difference of sound.
Pushing off with the back foot is quite common when people try to run faster, however it is not a good idea from an energy efficiency point of view. You will put too much strain on your calves.
The auditory cue for push-off is similar to dragging the back foot but is generaly very short distingushing it from the cue for dragging the back foot. Concentrate on not pushing off and listen for the cue disappearing.
What to do
Does this mean you have to run gravel all the time? Certanly not, what you do is make sure that your running route has some gravel along it or you do one run every once in a while on a gravel path to get feedback. It is as simple as that, not a big sacrifice, right?
Let me know how it works out for you!
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