I want to be a better runner. I want to run efficiently. I want to improve my race times. I want to set myself up for success so I don’t get hurt and have to stop running. Because I love it way too much for that.
So, I do what I know I need to do when I want to get better: I go to the experts. I’m on the email list for a local running store and received an email blast a few weeks ago about free Good Form Running clinics being held Monday nights. I signed up immediately. Since the classes are limited to 15 participants, they fill up quickly.
I was able to get into one of the first sessions. It was last night. And it was really a great experience. Not knowing what to expect, I emailed in advance. The response? Come prepared to run a little bit. So, I came home from work, ate some dinner, changed into comfy clothes and my running shoes and headed down to Gazelle Sports. (Side note: They just built a new store with a great little community space where they offer these clinics, yoga for runners and a few other classes.)
I was a little nervous. I mean, I’m still kind of a newbie when it comes to running. And I just … well … started running. I never had any kind of training or desire to learn about running until I was doing it. What if the clinic was full of all these hardcore runners? What if I looked stupid (yeah, as much as my confidence has improved, I still have these sorts of “what if” moments now and again)? I needn’t have worried. I mean, really, we were all at a clinic. We all had questions. We were all there for the same reason: to improve our running. So, my self-consciousness quickly disappeared.
We started with quick intros from the three Good Form Running coaches. All shared their own stories and experiences with Good Form Running and how it changed their running lives — they all went through the clinics, as well, in order to improve their form. So they were able to tell us personal stories about how they improved their form, thus improving their running and cutting down on injuries. It was great to hear about a program from people so obviously passionate about it who had directly benefited from it. They all, as they said, “drank the Kool-Aid.”
We then headed outside to run around the store for a quick warm-up, followed by a quick video shoot. Each of us ran, single file, past one of the coaches as she took video of our running form. We did a second run past her without our shoes on so we could compare our in-shoe running form to our barefoot form.
Back in the community room, we reviewed the four points of Good Form Running:
- Posture — They showed us how to “reset” before we started a run (or, even, midrun) to make sure our posture was working for us rather than working against us in our running.
- Midfoot — Rather than a heel- or toe-strike, midfoot strike with a slightly bent knee encourages your body not to overstride or work harder than it needs to. It also helps cut down on injuries, as there’s not as much force and pounding on joints when landing.
- Cadence — By using a metronome, the coaches demonstrated the benefits of running at a 180 cadence.
- Lean — Leaning forward from the ankles and not the waist allows gravity and inertia to work with you rather than against you.
After reviewing those four steps, we
had got to watch our video. It wasn’t nearly so bad as I expected. I was the third one across the screen. And, other than being a heel striker, my running form was deemed to be pretty decent: good lean, good posture. Actually, most everyone in the class had good form, minus being heel strikers. There were only two toe strikers in the group. That was me in shoes. My form barefoot? Great. No problem with heel striking: Almost a perfect midfoot landing. In fact, most everyone’s form improved greatly simply by taking off our shoes. I wish I had the video or, at least a screen capture from it, to show you because it was pretty fascinating.
While they weren’t trying to sell us on barefoot running — or on anything other than improving our form — I’m actually finding myself considering it. I’m not sure that I’m quite ready to make that leap. Especially since I’m midway through training for my half marathon. But, before I start my marathon training in June, I’m considering transitioning to a minimalist shoe. Definitely not ready for Vibrams yet. But maybe something in between.
All in all, I would highly recommend a running clinic to anyone considering it. I gained some good insight into running and form and the importance of paying attention to what your body’s trying to do for you and stop trying to fight it. Plus, the coaches were great and hung around after the class to just talk running with anyone interested. And that’s always cool.