How To Run Faster
comes from Peak Performance, where you can find many more articles on running training
Runners habitually find their mechanics scrutinized and coaches preach endlessly about running form
, yet many investigations have revealed that a “form make-over” often has a negative rather than positive effect.
Dr Nancy Hamilton, however, has uncovered biomechanical adjustments which carry little risk of making a runner less efficient and which could shave time.
Hamilton linked investigations into the issue of form with the process of ageing and unearthed an exciting concept – meaning it may be possible to identify specific aspects of form which may be preserved in order to maintain efficient running speeds
At the National Championships in San Diego, Hamilton conducted a large investigation, comparing fast runners with slow ones, older with young.
This investigation led Hamilton to become convinced that performance differences between runners of the same age as well as age related declines in velocity may be caused by mechanical factors such as range of motion at the hips, knees and ankles.
Hamilton’s theory was that range of motion was bound to influence stride length and stride frequency – two aspects of running which must change if you are to become a faster runner.
Hamilton findings showed that ageing did not effect stride rate to any great extent, but that stride length declined by a massive amount. Looking at the extreme example of 35 year old runners versus 90 year old competitors, stride length declined by a massive 40%! As Hamilton put it, “Even though the legs of older runners were still moving quickly, they were not gaining as much distance per step.”
Consideration of why this happens, and prevention of this decline can therefore significantly improve running speeds.
Hamilton’s also found that, although movement with the knee declined with ageing, the loss of range of motion at the hip was even greater. Thus, preservation of hip flexibility was more important for maintaining speed that the maintenance of knee suppleness. Specifically, Hamilton found that the key to optimal hip range was the conservation of hip mobility during the kick or drive phase of running. This has led to exciting ideas on ways to begin renovating form.