The other day I was viewing my Instagram feed, when I came across a photo that made me do a double-take. The picture in question was of two runners crossing the 5K finish line at the end of a sprint triathlon.
The reason I had to look twice was because of the disparity between the strides of the two runners. This is not the actual photo I saw…but it is a reasonable facsimile!
One runner looked like picture #1…a clear case of overstriding. The other looked like #2, which is a healthy stride.
What is overstriding, you may ask? It’s what some runners do, usually when they try to run faster (as this runner was perhaps trying to do as he crossed the finish line). They stretch their forward leg out further in front of them in an attempt to lengthen their stride to cover more ground…which is not the right approach. This approach causes a lot of strain on your ankles, knees, and hips and can cause lots of joint problems in the future.
A better way to maximize your stride is to push off from the ground with your back leg, which is easy to do if you focus on engaging (a.k.a. squeezing) your hamstrings and imagine you’re running on a treadmill with a moving belt. As you push off, also think about getting as much “flight time” as you can before your forward leg hits the ground. And when it does, you should be getting ready to push off the ground behind you as you move forward…and the cycle continues!
So the next time you find yourself in a running situation and you want to really turn up the gas, don’t reach your forward leg out, push off harder with your back foot.
You’ll thank me later.
Jupiter Running Girl
PS If you want to learn more about stride length and the proper way to run, read my recent blog post or try my program. Either way, you’re a winner!
Leave me a comment and let me know what your biggest running form challenge is. You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine…