Learning to Run

author : gsmacleod
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Recently I read an article on running drills by Lance Watson that was discussed incorporating running drills into your training. One of the points in the article really struck a chord with me, and I think it bears further thought. He stated that the majority of runners were relying on skills that had been honed on the playground as children. To me, this simple, yet incredibly insightful, observation is something that many novice triathletes should bear in mind. If you are coming to triathlon from a non-running background, then learning to run properly may be the deciding factor as to whether you continue in multisport or not.

Unlike many sports that have a huge participation level among youth and declining participation among aging athletes, triathlon typically attracts the majority of its athletes from the thirty-plus demographic – which means a solid percentage of multisport athletes either have no running background or are several years removed from any serious run training. This can lead to many issues, such as trying to do too much too soon, running too hard, and, one of the most important in my opinion, running with poor form.

We give form a great deal of consideration when it comes to swimming. Novice swimmers are encouraged to take lessons, have their stroke analyzed, and complete drills to help build the neuromuscular pathways that allow one to maintain proper form throughout the stroke. Although we place less emphasis on form and drills in cycling, most athletes will complete some drills, typically isolated leg drills and spinups, in order to improve pedal stroke. However, when it comes to running, proper form and drills are not always included within a training program.

Like in swimming and cycling, there are going to be differences between individuals. Having your unique run technique analyzed can often provide valuable feedback. Since you cannot see yourself exercising, having an objective observer can often lead to discovery of form issues of which you were unaware. Once these issues are identified, the small changes that result can often lead to improved performance as you are able to run more efficiently – therefore allowing you to run faster, longer, or both.

So, as you begin your journey as a runner, make the investment to have your running form critiqued. If you do not have access to a coach through a triathlon or running club in your area, you can always talk to the track or cross country coach at a local school or university. In addition to being able to address technique flaws, they should be able to provide you with a number of drills that you can do to help you improve your efficiency as a runner.

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date: July 9, 2007

gsmacleod