How I improved my running in 6 weeks with FixMyRun
It’s nearly three years since I took up running. Although I feel a lot fitter than I used to, I’ve experienced a few niggles since the beginning. This has included numbness in my feet, back pain and stiffness and also some achilles strains.
I do try to get properly warmed up before a run and for the last year have incorporated some cross training to increase strength and mobility. (A weekly core conditioning class where we use resistance bands and focus on strength, balance, back/hip mobility etc. and another fitness class which is an hour of circuit training using weights, skipping ropes etc.)
The risk of injuries is always there as a runner, but what if there was more that could be done to prevent them? When I came across FixMyRun on social media, it got me thinking about my running style. Could I be running the ‘wrong’ way and repeatedly over straining myself without realising?
Curious to find out, I went for an assessment with Joe, one of the Directors at FixMyRun. After getting reacquainted with indoor running on a treadmill (it has been a while!) Joe set up a camera and filmed a few clips of me running in my usual way.
There was clearly room for improvement. My posture needed correcting as I tended to lean forward, looking down at the ground a lot. (Head should be straight, with eyes looking ahead.) My left arm was swinging about in an unproductive way. Foot strike was ok, but I was landing too far forward and creating an unnecessary bounce as my body caught up; a waste of energy and effort.
The foot should be beneath hip and knee when you land and the aim is to spend more time in the air and less on the ground, which naturally will put less force through your body. Finally, the quads and calf muscles were overworking, when my glutes should have been powering the run.
6 weeks to better running
I was pleased at the prospect of being able to improve things. So I signed up for FixMyRun’s six week course. For an hour every week I’d head down to their premises at the YClub in Manchester and work with Joe.
Over the sessions we spent time correcting and honing my technique in intervals on the treadmill. This meant incorporating good posture, a more pronounced ‘cycling’ motion with my legs and paying lots of attention to getting my arms right (which was the biggest challenge for me). I hadn’t appreciated how important a 90 degree elbow is, nor how much your arms dictate what your feet do!
I also got busy activating those half-asleep glutes during sessions. This is particularly important for someone like me who sits at a desk a lot, because the muscles tend to switch off. With a sit/stand desk at home, I resolved to stand a bit more in the future! I learned some effective exercises using not one but two resistance bands round my legs (feel the burn!) and also did some killer leg work against the wall which tested my core strength! All of this I include in my run preparation now, as well as a good cool down stretch afterwards that helps release tight hip flexors.
With practice and using a mental checklist each session, the running began to flow. When you hit the sweet spot and everything comes together, it feels just right. There was an, ‘Ahh, I get it now…’ moment. Lighter on my feet, less fatigued and more efficient, it’s was as if I could just keep on running – Duracell bunny style.
I was set homework and would normally do a Saturday morning parkrun plus some interval training in the week, so fast running interspersed with walking, plus trying to incorporate a hill or two where possible. This is all good for building speed and cardio fitness and it seems to be paying off.
By the end of the six weeks I had learned a lot. I’d set out aiming to correct my running form and be free of injury, but came away with much more. This is a great course for any North West based runners, whatever their goals. For example, you might be a total newbie wanting to start out right and avoid any bad habits. Maybe you have a big race or you’re perhaps returning to running after an injury.
I now feel better equipped and more confident, plus the achilles issues haven’t flared up since. Although I got a little soreness in my shins, due to the changes in technique, this shouldn’t be an ongoing thing.
I’m excited about getting out there and clocking up some miles; I might even sign up for a race or two. I’m also keen to beat the 5km PB I got during my 30 day run challenge in the summer… it’s within touching distance! What I don’t want to do is drift back into my old ways, so every time another km beeps on the Strava app, I do a quick technique check to ensure that I’m still on form.
Here’s a little before and after video which I think demonstrates how my posture has improved since the start, as well as arm and leg motion.
Are you a runner who thinks they could benefit from a course like this? Have you improved your running technique and noticed a big difference? I’d love to read your comments below.