At the end of last year I had a running technique analysis session with Neil Scholes from Kinetic Revolution. It was organised by my triathlon club and was extremely useful. You can read all about that session here.
With more than a thousand running miles under my belt since the last session I thought it was time for a refresher, so I organised a car full of people to come with me to visit Neil at Bath to see how awesome my running style now was….or not!
It was great to see Neil again. We had been in semi regular email contact since the last session about various things and as a coach he has never failed to demonstrate a great passion for sport and a huge breadth and depth of knowledge.
We met in the entrance to the impressive sports village at Bath University, and immediately settled in to chatting about our abilities and goals. Questioned suitably by Neil so that he could determine what he was in for throughout the 2 hour session. With that done we headed straight for the track and set about doing our individual warm-up routines and getting in a few laps of the track at a specific pace requested by Neil. While doing this Neil was busy with the Camera while his wife Beth kept us organised, going in the right direction, and made a few additional observations such as stride rate.
You can see my running video below, as taken by Neil, and showing a lot less improvement than I thought that I had made in the previous twelve months!
After the filming we headed indoors to review the footage and Neil analysed each of us in turn. While this was going on conversation was free and we were all asking questions. Personally I prefer doing these sessions as a small group as many more questions get asked and you also have other runners to compare your technique with. Our issues were varied and Neil demonstrated a knack for getting to the root cause of any issues, which often wasn’t where you thought it might be.
Analysis done Neil set about putting us through a number of stretching and strengthening exercises, and helped us to figure out which ones would be the most suitable for us. Beth did a great job as the “crash test dummy” that Neil used to demonstrate the various positions, which we then attempted to copy. Afterwards we returned to the track to do some running drills while Neil guided us into better and more efficient running form, so that we could get an idea for what it should feel like.
After that it was time for lunch in the Bath University Sports Café which was delicious, I can highly recommend it if you are ever passing! You will be surrounded by quite a lot of very fit and energetic looking students, however they didn’t take a second glance at us “slightly” older folk even if we are dressed in lycra. Neil and Beth joined us and we continued to chat for quite a bit longer, at least until we realised that the parking ticket had expired 50 minutes ago!
The service provided by Neil and Beth was excellent, as it had been last year, but it was great to see that they had evolved the sessions based on their experiences and knowledge gained in the interim. This clear demonstration of the coaches also continually learning and developing their already ample skills was great to see.
Personally I got a lot out of the session. My cadence and body lean had improved since the previous session, however my stride still needed some work. I was using far too much quad and not enough glute/hamstring as I brought my leg through. This was leading me to overextend my leg at the front of my stride and you can see my feet almost searching for the floor before a definite heel contact is made in front of my centre mass. Neil filled in the missing piece of the puzzle for me, which straightaway corrected that whole element of my stride, leading to a foot strike much closer under my centre of mass and removing the braking effect that was happening during each and every stride. It didn’t yet feel natural, but Neil was full of tips for how to incorporate it into everyday running so that it would slowly become the “norm.”
Ultimately I should have booked this follow up session much closer to the original session until I had got my stride perfected. I now regret leaving it so long knowing that I could have made some fairly easy improvements. Just think of all the miles that I have run in between and how much easier or quicker they could have been with these changes.
Now it’s time for the hard work. I ran twelve miles this morning working consciously on putting the changes into effect and I finished feeling much more tired than normal. This was a combination of the extra concentration and also using my muscles in a slightly different way to normal. The changes aren’t big, so hopefully it wont take long for my body to adapt. After I finished I found that the tweaks came straight across into my walking as well, which was a slightly odd feeling.
Next time I wont be leaving it so long before getting my running technique check-up! I would strongly recommend that you give it a go, even more so if you are just starting out or often get injured while running.