Build on fundamental skills
Updated: Aug 15, 2020
You may have seen the Michael Jordan quote I use on the homepage of my website
"You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise"
Love him or loathe him, Michael Jordan was one of those rare athletes who transcended their sport through both his unparalleled achievements and strength of personality.
This philosophy to training is as true for running as it is for basketball. We can run all the miles we want every week, but if our running technique is poor then the only thing we get good at is running badly. At best this means we don't fulfil our true potential, but with the training loads we runners put our bodies through, this often leads to injury.
But isn't running is just a case of putting one foot in front of the other as fast you can?
Why is it kids have swimming lessons and work their way through various distance badges, whereas with running they just tell you to get out there and run? No wonder about half of runners get injured at some point in any given year.
By taking the time to stop and think about the basics, we can make significant improvements to our running speeds, economy and endurance - as well as strengthen our bodies against the injuries that plague our seasons.
At Blaze Your Trail we don't believe that one size fits all. We know that we each have our own unique body shapes and idiosyncrasies that underlie our running styles. It's not a case of trying to make us all run like Eliud Kipchoge, rather to help us become the best possible versions of ourselves we can be.
We offer a complete analysis of running form for our clients, with a video-based report on all aspects of running to help guide future training. But even without this there are some quick and simple steps that we could all take to take a look in the metaphorical mirror and "get the fundamentals down".
1. BALANCE & COORDINATION
Try balancing on one leg at a time and throwing a tennis ball back and forth to yourself against a wall facing you.
Can you catch the ball with both hands?
How long can you do it for on each leg?
Are you equally stable on both legs?
Stand facing a wall with your toes 2/3 inches away from the skirting board. Raise your hands above you and sit down into a squat.
Can you get down into a squat in the first place?
When you do, can you keep your raised hands away from the wall in front of you?
Stand with both feet together in front or a marked line, and bending down, swing both your arms back and take a two footed jump as far forward as you can (without falling).
Can you stick a landing?
Men - can you jump at least 2.2m
Women - can you jump at least 1.7m?
4. RUNNING FORM
This is a slightly trickier one to do, and involves the 'coach's eye' to really spot the details, but get a friend to video you running on a track or round a local park at 80% effort after a short warm-up. And do this from 4 angles; from the left, from the right, from the front and from behind.
How much, and from where, do you lean forward when you run?
How much are your arms swinging, and forwards or side-to-side?
Where do your knees stop at the highest point on your front leg?
Where does your heel come to at the highest point of your rear leg?
Where and how does your foot land when it hits the ground?
I'm not saying that any of these things are simple to fix, but with a little focus and a lot of dedication you can improve on all of these and make a massive difference to your running.
So next time you lace up your shoes to head out the door, remember what Michael said, and aim to think about one fundamental aspect of running to focus on and improve while you're out there.
Do this every time you run and you too may fly like Michael one day!