The Third P of Running Form: Placement (Part 2)

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Here we go with our second article for Placement

Placement is dependant on how your whole body reacts to the force of impact from running.  Since this depends on your whole body, we want to make sure when we run that all 4 Ps are employed, our first two are Posture and Position.

I've showed you what the other types of gaits are: walking, jogging and sprinting.  The last one to talk about is the running gait.  This is what we are going to cover today: proper way to land, lever, load and lift your foot to and from the ground; proper arm swing; and maintaining proper alignment of your body.

Before I go into the details, let's do one more demonstration of what a proper landing on your foot should feel like for your whole body.  If you were to jump straight into the air, how would you land?  You would come down with a relaxed foot, and upon impact you would bend at your hips and your knees which would allow you to land softly in preparation for the next jump, just like a spring.  When you run with a heel striking gait you land in a completely different way: it would be the same as if you were to jump straight in the air and come down landing on your heels.  You would land with a straight knee and straight hip.  Doing this is extremely uncomfortable; you can feel the shock all the way up your body to your head.  This is an extreme example of what happens when you heel strike.

So we know what a midfoot strike should feel like.  We transfer this two legged jump to a 1 leg march or running in place.  While running in place you should feel your foot relax and land on the midfoot, settling your foot into the heel, and lifting from the knee to pull the foot off the ground, doing this again on the other side.  You want to maintain proper posture and position.  As you run in place, remember to swing your arms.  A proper arm swing consists of swinging your arms in a relaxed-as wide as you can sort of way and then relaxing your arms around a 90 degree bend and continuing to swing in the relaxed-as wide as you can sort of way.

To move from a running in place to running straight forward you simply lean forward from the ankles.  Your lean will decide which direction you run in.  Continue to run in place and try it.  Lean forward to go forward, no lean to stop and run in place, and lean backward to run backward.   The more you lean forward or backward, the faster you go in that direction.

The 3 L's of placement are Landing, Levering (loading) and lifting.

-Land on your midfoot with a bent knee and bent hip.   You will land slightly in front of your center of gravity on your midfoot and continue to your stride to a mid-stance.  Do not land your foot by plantar flexing your foot (pointing your toes) or by dorsiflexing your foot (flexing the foot upward).  Instead, land your foot in a relaxed way.

-Lever your foot in mid-stance and load your body weight in this position, allowing your heel to settle in.  Your knee will be bent slightly (about as much as it is in a ready position) and the same with your hips.  Still maintain proper posture and armswing.

-Lift your foot off the ground by bending your knee and flexing your hip flexor until your knee is lifted at 90 degrees in front of you.  This is not a forceful pushing off of the toe like in a sprinting gait, this is simply lifting your foot off the ground.

Here are some videos for proper running form.

- - In this video the runner comes to a full extension of the leg.  You can see the muscle of the leg shake and the initial force on the leg in the force meter.

- - Here is a proper strike.  You can see the load of weight on the ground is a nice even bell curve.  

- - This video shows some more differences between a heel strike v. midfoot striking gait.  It also shows some professional runners and shows their running gaits to be a midfoot striking gait.

- - Danny Abshire with proper foot placement

- - Land lever lift with Danny Abshire

If you have any questions up to this point, don't hesitate to ask!


Go Faster and Keep Smiling!

Coach Larsen

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