Run Coaching Philosophy

Running at Dusk

Since collegiate triathlon nationals last month, I’ve gotten several requests to help coach running form to my team mates. It’s cool to have people inquire into the obscure subject in which I regularly geek out, and it got me thinking of what my run mechanics coaching philosophy would be. For about the last year, I’ve been snatching any knowledge about the topic from blogs and athletes, and working to fix my form. Trying to convey the accumulation of those tacit experiences is hard.

But I have tried to convert the mental queues I understand into coachable points someone else can grasp. Here’s what I have:

  1. Better running mechanics is about proper muscle activation and motion patterns
    Minimalist shoes or going barefoot is a result rather than a goal.
  2. Understand loading and how forefoot running works
    One doesn’t necessarily need to buy kinvaras and become a new runner overnight. Just learn how natural running works. Know your legs are springs and are most efficiently loaded at about 180 steps per minute.  Then try to figure out how your current form differs from natural running. Once you perceive what your body is doing and how to fix it, see #3. Mark Cucuzzella teaches the basics of natural running well in his video here.
  3. “Keep looking and digging until you have found the 1 THING that can explain what is going on,” in the words of the Gait Guys.
    By ‘what’s going on’, they are referring to form issues or injuries. Sometimes one issue is causing all of problems in a gait, so focus on fixing that one. Other times, there may be more than one issue, but fixing them all at once is a recipe for neurological and physical confusion. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
  4. Start with posture and glute activation
    These are two of the easier things to understand, and they are the foundation for a runner’s mechanic. It’s called core for a reason. Cucuzzella talked about posture in his video above. Here’s a very good video from the Gait Guys on glute activation, featuring Illinois native Jack Driggs.
  5. Watch fast people
    Visual learning is an effective way to learn once you know a little of what to look for. So smooth:

That’s where I’ll start with my triathlon team mates. Here are my favorite blogs and natural runners if you want more information:

The Gait Guys
As dense as pound cake but excellent if you can stomach the language. Watch their videos.
Aka Pete Larson, everything you ever wanted to know about shoes and more
Mark Cucuzzella
Doesn’t blog as much but his hippy videos are usually greatly informative.

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