The Run Bounce

It’s been a lot easier to break and maintain sub 8 minute miles, coach. For the past few runs I’ve been trying this new thing that feels like a bounce when I run. In my head it was extending the length between strides, which is why I was faster. Upon further research of bouncing while you run, my understanding of what was going on shifted a bit. Bouncing (going up and down) would be wasted motion, which is inefficient.  The goal in running is to generally move forward, not up and down. The sensation that I am labeling bouncing is most likely the feeling of generating more power from my legs, while I’m pushing off. That does not explain why I felt like I was leaping higher off the ground. So I experimented with this for a couple of weeks to figure out what was going on.

After reading up on bouncing and running form, my primary source of information on the subject coming from JP Gloria‘s analysis of distance runners Eliud Kipchoge and Mo Farah.  Testing some of the theories at the lake gave me a better understanding of my running form, the characteristics that I was aware and unaware of.

Leaning, is one of the characteristics I was (still am, for the most part) unaware of. Going into these runs, my assumption was that I had been running straight up, keeping my torso 90 degrees from the ground, the whole time.  On one run I over compensated for this assumption by consciously trying to lean and run at the same time. This felt like falling in in-perpetuity, since I could not sustain that level of output for long.  In order for me to be aware of the lean I was pivoting my body at the hip, which shifted my center of mass so far forward that I was forced to constantly catch myself.

After this epic failure of form, I retreated to movements that I was more comfortable and efficient with. Searching for answers I stumbled across another runners explanation of “leaning while running” where they explained the angle is produced at the ankle, more so than the hip. So on a weekend run I focused on what my ankles were doing, in my comfortable form. Sure enough, I noticed the angle between my foot and shin was smaller as I began to push off with each leg.  This meant I had already been leaning, so the bounce is more of a push forward than a push up.

In my defense, I’m only aware of the movements I think I make since I am such a stiff and mechanical person.

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