Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Right Way to Run

There is an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer by Gina Kolata from the New York Times News Service with the title "The right way to run? There isn't one".

She articulates one of the discussions we were having last weekend at the store about how the winner of the women's marathon, Constantina Tomescu, had terrible looking form. Paula Radcliffe, the world record holder at 2:17 also has a bobbing, jerky motion that looks very inefficient. Haile Gebrelesassie runs on his toes. Steve Prefontaine wasted energy when he ran.

My Coach always said that if you ran enough miles, your stride would eventually smooth out to be right for your body. Maybe for Paula Radcliffe, bobbing her head is what makes her most comfortable.

The author of the article sites a couple of different researchers. William Kraemer of the University of Connecticut did a study of top marathoners. 62 percent are heal-toe runners like Deena Kastor. 36 percent are midfoot runners like Olympic 5K and 10K champion Kenesia Bekele. 2% are toe runners like Haile Gebreselassie, world record holder in the marathon, and my daughter Allison.

To me the answer always comes back to - go run more miles if you want to get better. It will be the key to building your cardiovascular system and pumping more oxygen to your muscles more efficiently - the key to improving your running. As Peter Cavanaugh, head of orthopaedics and sports medicine for the University of Washington, said of his tests he ran on Pre back in the early 70's - "Pre made up for it (wasted motion) with a tremendous ability to pump blood to his muscles. He had the biggest engine."

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