Why would you want to do the work when gravity can do it for you? Get the leaning aspect of your run right and you’ll never have to push yourself along again!
Before you start running engage your core. The core is a collection of muscles and tendons that run roughly between the top of your thighs and the bottom of your rib cage. The core is often misunderstood as the just the abs; and while they are a large part of the core, there are many other contributors. The core is responsible for twisting movements. Imagine a tennis player. When they plant their feet on the ground and take a backswing, this is transferring power from the legs to the upper body. The power of the core brings the raquet forward and the shoulders finish the swing. In a running sense we simply want the core to hold us in a strong forward position.
With feet flat on the floor, bend at the ankles. This will push your centre of gravity forward. Move your hips over your toes. You will feel as though you are going to fall forward. That what we want! Gravity is pushing you forward! Why use up energy pushing yourself forward when gravity does it for free?!
Now think of the possibilities. Gravity is always there and the further we lean the more we are pushed forward. So if you can hold that good position gravity can push you faster than your legs ever could. This becomes a game of body position rather than leg strength. Obviously your ability to keep your legs underneath you to stop you falling flat on your face plays a big part in running but your leg speed can be trained and we will get to that. For now practice keeping a straight line from your ankles to your shoulder.
Bending at the waist will void your forward lean. The aim of the forward lean is to get your centre of gravity in front of you but if you bend at the waist your hips will move backwards and your centre of gravity will be directly above your feet. Remember this: to initiate movement, equilibrium must be broken. Your centre of gravity directly above your feet is equilibrium. You can’t move forward like that; that’s effectively standing straight. Breaking equilibrium is moving your centre of gravity in front of you; ie. Pushing your hips over your toes.
Give it a try. Stand straight, engage your core, push your hips over your toes and maybe further until you start to fall. Stand up and do it now; I’ll wait. You fell forwards because of gravity. Free speed. If we spin our legs over to ensure we stay upright (which you will see in the next article) then there’s less metabolic cost in running forward because gravity is pushing us.
Easy? It might be one of those things that takes 10 minutes to understand but a lifetime to master but I’ll suggest you can run faster than you do now, with less effort, in 6 weeks if you apply these principles.
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