It takes around 48,000 to 50,000 steps to run a marathon! That is a tremendous amount of force for the body to deal with. There are several Hollyburn members that are either beginning their marathon training, in the midst of marathon training, or are fending off injury from the repetitive nature of this activity. Understanding the biomechanics in relation to running technique will provide you with useful information on how your body will handle this force.
1. Biomechanics is the study of the body in terms of its mechanical structure and properties in all movements.
2. Running is an individualized activity, in that our natural body types define running form and technique. We all have different bone structure, muscle lengths, muscle strengths and weaknesses that contribute to this form. Our bodies adopt the most economical form for us, which may be restricting for those with an injury or those with previous trauma that limit our body’s potential. (i.e. old hamstring tear causing a decreased stride length).
3. Form – affected by posture, cadence, and stride length.
a) Posture – optimal posture will improve stride length, but don’t waste energy fighting to maintain a posture that your body isn’t comfortable with. Most of us will discover our posture improves while running (due to increased muscle activity of our spinal stabilizers), but some of us may have some significant soft-tissue or bony changes in our bodies that prevent our posture from improving.
b) Cadence– stride frequency. Elite runners tend to have a cadence of 180 or more steps/minute. Your own natural comfortable cadence level will increase with speed workouts and a gradual increase in intensity. Cadence is controlled by your mind! Stay in the groove!
c) Stride length– your natural stride length is the most economical one. By increasing your stride length you may temporarily gain some speed, but you will be expending much more energy thereby fatiguing much more quickly.
Maintain your form at all times! Increase your speed by improving your cadence through proper training, not by lengthening your natural stride length. It’s worth the effort to maintain your proper form even in the later stages of a run when fatigue is setting in. Your muscles will work most efficiently in the ranges of motion and velocity you’ve been training them in!