Chapter 3: Should I improve my running technique?

If you’re thinking about renovating or detonating your running technique then this chapter of the eBook will give you the beginnings of a rational framework for making the decision.  As a coach and writer I definitely don’t belong to a school school of thought that advocates intervention when there is nothing to fix. If your results are meeting your expectations and injuries don’t get in your way then it’s likely you don’t need to make any major changes to your technique.  However, there may be some fine-tuning you can do or even adding to your strengths that might be worthwhile.  The three factors I focus on when considering whether a close look at your technique might be warranted are:

Injuries

Running Injury Caued by Poor TechniqueThere’s no doubt that injury is the most obvious sign that things are not quite right with your running technique.  The problem is that most people tend to focus on any explanation other than the way that they run when trying to pin down the actual cause of a running injury.  I was the same, spending big money on different shoe technology, avoiding running on hard surfaces, buying inserts for my shoes, cushioned socks – you name it, I tried it.  But nothing worked, I still got injured while doing a relatively modest amount of running.  The only way to really find out if your injury problems stem from your running technique is to have an expert look over your running technique.  Chapter 6 of Running Technique explains how to do a simple gait analysis and gives you a good head-start at being able to identify some common problems that might be causing you to get hurt, but it’s always worth showing your gait analysis video footage to a range of people to see what they can identify.

Lack of enjoyment in your running

Running should be a natural movement for humans that generally feels pretty good.  If you find yourself dreading running because you’re always sore and hurting then it could be that some improvement to your technique is needed.  Don’t fall into the trap of running through the pain or giving up on running because you feel like injuries are an inevitable consequence to getting out and having a jog a few times a week.  Humans can run, we’re built for it – running three or four times a week shouldn’t necessitate the need for deep tissue massage and regular visits to the physiotherapist. If it does there could be something in the way you move that is causing the problem.  Running should be enjoyable and fun, if it isn’t then try and find out why and take positive steps to improve your running technique and general strength.

Performance

I always remember Australian running legend Steve Moneghetti talking about how he is a “competitive animal” and this was after he had retired from being a world class Olympic marathon runner.  These days he’s knocking on the door of fifty years of age but can still mix it with the best up and coming runners in Australia.  While you’d expect someone who has run at the highest level to be competitive and interested in achieving a high levels of performance many people don’t realize that runners of more humble abilities are just as interested in improving their running personal bests and records.  So as the final factor in decided on whether your technique might need a tune-up performance is all important.  If you’re training the house down, running big miles and doing all the right things but still can’t crack a decent improvement in your times, then have a think about your running technique. It could be that you are super-fit in terms of your cardiovascular ability but your running form is too inefficient to drive you to better performance.  Another factor could be a lack of strength to complement your overall fitness.  Again, the only way to find out is to get your running gait analyzed.

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Improving technique - coach's view

Why might change be needed?

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