I want to become a better runner.
Not a faster runner, but a better runner.
After a minute or two on the treadmill, Christine had me hop off and asked me if I do drills. The answer is NO. I explained that I keep thinking about doing them (I first heard about drills from Kelly Roberts on her blog, Run Selfie Repeat), but as a former dancer, I am psychotic about form and did’t want to pick up some random drills I found online and do them wrong.
One drill Christine gave me to work towards fixing my heel-strike and over-stride is this:
- Jog in place on the balls of your feet for a few seconds
- Briefly plant both feet on the ground and hinge forward from the ankles until it feels like you’re about to fall
- Catch yourself by using that forward momentum and jog forward on the balls of your feet for a few yards
This reminds me a bit of a Looney Tunes character spinning his legs and zooming off. I’m looking forward to testing that one out. I’m also going to stop being a weenie and start trying the drills from Run Selfie Repeat. Christine suggested doing drills as a warm-up for every run.
Then we started talking about stretching. I admitted to being THE WORST about stretching. I mentioned that I have a foam roller, and I just started using it, but that I was slightly baffled by it and treat it very much the same way I do stretches. Christine gently scolded me about this, and mentioned that as I train for my first marathon, stretching will be a key component.
She suggested doing dynamic stretches to do before a run, to encourage range of motion. It’s hard to explain the mechanics of these stretches, so here are visuals with explanations of their purpose:
The pose above is meant to stretch the hip flexor and quad. The way to achieve this is by tucking your toes up against a wall and tightening the core and glutes to feel tension across the front of the hip. The arms can be held at different points across the body for a few seconds at a time. Balance was tricky with this one.
The pose above is meant to stretch the hamstrings. My knees are bent because straightening my legs would cause too much tension in my hamstrings. The goal is to keep the back completely flat and be able to touch the floor. Christine claims that over time, this pose will get easier and I will be able to straighten my legs. I think I believe her.
Image Credit: Huffington Post
Obviously, the image above is not me. I forgot to ask Christine to take a picture of me in the pose on the left. The exercise she had me do was the pose on the left – it is a balance pose that is meant to engage the core and strengthen the ankles. My only note here is that the standing leg needs to have a bent knee. Each side should be held for 30-60 seconds. Eventually, Christine tells me that I could progress this balance pose into the pose on the right.
The only other stretches Christine suggested are the usual static stretches – for hamstrings, quads, and calves – to be done after a run.
Finally, Christine suggested body weight exercises (including planks in all directions) as well. I asked if she had an opinion on cross-training on days that I run or between running days, and she said that whatever works best for me will be fine. There are a lot of different opinions out there about recovery time, and the best time to cross-train (or if you need to cross-train at all).
And that’s it.
The goal is to incorporate drills before every run, and stretching before/after every run. I also need to foam roll more often, but we didn’t talk about that. There are tons of videos out there on the interwebz, so I’ll figure that one out.
Thanks for reading part 4 of my gait analysis experience. I hope you’ve found this information helpful. If anything, it might help you determine whether or not you would like to have a gait analysis done for yourself.
I am not a health professional – please reach out to your doctor or physical therapist for information about gait.