Hit The Road...Running provides fitness training and education aimed at runners. This section is a collection of articles and white papers written by Tony Denford, founder of Hit The Road. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments of any post.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

TIPS - Invest in technique, not in shoes

Once again a study is released which concludes that there is no correlation between the price of running shoes and their effectiveness at preventing injury. Many of you may have already heard me quoting earlier studies which came to the same conclusion.

So what is the secret to staying injury free?

There are several factors to this question including mileage, training intensity, rest intervals and training habits but nothing is more important than the actual technique of the runner. There are far too many programs out there that focus on covering a certain distance or running at a certain pace but not enough trainers are focusing on limiting the impact of running which we all know is the cause of almost all running related injuries.

If you've ever taken those expensive running shoes off and tried to run, you'll immediately find that you run very differently. No longer will you heel strike or step out in front of your centre of gravity, both would be too painful. What you will do is land in a more protective stance with your foot directly beneath you and much more on the ball of the foot.

There are a couple of major benefits to running this way when you put the shoes back on. Firstly it's your body's natural response to protect yourself from impact injuries. Secondly, as you are no longer landing on your heals, you are neutralizing the affect of pronation or supination (rolling of the foot throughout the motion of running). The benefit of having a neutral foot strike is that you are not putting additional stresses on your ankle, knee and hip joints by twisting to compensate for the jarring effect of a heal strike and again reducing your risk of injury.

At first it may seem like an unnatural way to run but once you work on increasing your cadence to compensate for the shorter stride, it will soon train your nervous system and become second nature.

The last concern is that by shortening your stride you will run slower but next time you're at a big race, watch the guys at the front. Most world class runners run at a cadence of 160-180 steps per minute. Their secret to running faster is to spend more time in the air and no-one has ever had an impact injury from being in the air.

Like my skydiving buddy once said, it's not the falling that will kill you, it's hitting the ground.

Run smooth.

About The Author

Tony Denford is a certified personal trainer and owner or Hit the Road. He has been training primarily runners since 2002 and has worked with beginners all the way to Boston Qualifier Marathon runners.

Tony emphasizes balance and variety in his training methods and always tries to make sure his client’s fitness routines are fun as well as beneficial.

Visit www.hittheroadrunning.com for more details on Hit The Road’s programs and services.