Friday, 24 June 2016

Born To Run Workshop - How to Run Injury Free

Most people who know me will at some stage have made a joke about having to wrap me in bubble wrap due to my rather annoying ability to injure myself in some very bizarre ways.  I am incredibly accident-prone.  Most recently I have endured a period of 7 months of non running due to a car accident and subsequent strange problems with my feet.

Now most runners I know have experienced a injury-forced lay off at some stage in their running careers. What I didn't know was the actual figure is 80% - 80% of runners a year are unable to run due to injury.

I learnt this crazy fact at Born To Run, a workshop run by Paul Tierney and Sarah McCormack who run their own natural movement fitness company called Missing Link Fitness in Ambleside.  Both top class international fell runners, they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the course, all with the aim of identifying what makes runners so injured and what we can do to prevent it.

The course stems from the coaching method of Lee Saxby.  Over two days they covered a mixture of theory and practice; showing twelve runners from a mix of ages, abilities and experience how to improve their running technique.  The beauty of the course is that it focuses on making some very simple tweaks to your running form to get the benefits needed - leading to some almost instantaneous results.

The first day focused on the theory behind good running biomechanics and we did a squat test, a jump test, a treadmill run and stood on a footplate so that Paul was able to screen out current level. My posture was not too bad when running, but my cadence was very slow.  My jump test and deep squat test were particularly poor, though this wasn't exactly a surprise to me!  The huge connection between bad cultural habits (sitting on chairs for long periods and wearing restrictive footwear) and poor running form was illustrated really well.  The afternoon consisted of a fun session in the park barefoot, improving squatting and posture. My squat retest the next day showed a big improvement, though there was still a lot to work on in terms of how upright I was.

Day Two focused on bioenergetics and the body under stress.  Some really interesting theory behind training at an easy pace came up in discussion and though I had always advocated less intense training, I didn't appreciate quite how easy "easy pace" should be!  We went on a group run with our mouths taped up so they we had to nose breath.  I think we all got a shock at how slow this actually was and also a lot of strange looks from the residents of Ambleside!  We also did some useful pylometric drills and worked on our downhill running skills.

The rest of the theory looked at the lifestyle factors that best promote healthy mitochondria, respiration and subsequently good running.  This holistic approach to training, eating and moving in a way that improves your running and puts your body under less stress made so much sense.

My own take home points for improving my running form were:

  • Higher cadence needed - about 175 instead of 150!  I will run with a metronome on my phone to try and achieve this.
  • Big toe is not making contact with the ground on foot plate test.  I am wearing Vivo barefoot shoes most of the time and will continue to do so.  DO TOE YOGA.
  • Jump test and squat test were poor.  Will work on bounding drills to improve this.

My points for improving my bioenergetics were:

  • Move more - walk as much as possible instead of driving shorter distances.  Sit less.  Go outside at lunch.
  • Prioritise early bedtime.
  • Make majority of runs really easy paced.  Only one run a week intense.
I would recommend this course to anyone sick of being injured over and over again.  It offers the opportunity to really look at your running technique intelligently and work out how to address the major flaws that are causing you problems.  It's also a great opportunity to meet like-minded runners, get some individually tailored advice from some expert runners about how to improve your running form and have a good laugh running around with your mouth taped shut.