I love to analyse my race photos because they reveal a lot about where we need to make improvements in our form, particularly when race photographers capture us in a fatigued state, usually at the end of a race or at the top of a hill.
I was looking at some photos of me at the end of a 5k race this week that I thought I’d talk you through, to see what we can learn about running form and what we can improve on.
First of all, the good.
You can see that my posture is straight, with my head up, and my core is engaged as I’m not sagging at the waist. Engaging core muscles is vital to good posture for running as it will keep you nice and straight, to enable you to run more efficiently. You can also see that I’m leaning forward slightly from the ankles, particularly in the middle and right photos, meaning I’ve got some forward momentum going. My heel is clearly up in the left photo, indicating a strong drive of my leg to propel me forward, although this could be better. I’ve also clearly got some arm movement going on, with relaxed hands, but we’ll talk about that in a moment. Oh and I’m smiling!
So what can I improve on?
The most obvious things I can tell from these photos is that I need to work on lifting my knees higher to propel me forward more. This is really obvious from the middle photo. My stride length looks quite short as a result (although bear in mind I was running up hill, where it naturally shortens). I’ll be working some drills into my training to see if I can improve on this knee drive.
Secondly, can you see how my arms swing across my body? It’s really important to use arms efficiently while running, especially uphill, but my swing could be much straighter. I’m probably losing forward momentum by allowing my arms to swing across my body, so this is something I’ll be working on.
Lastly, you can see that I am quite pronouncedly landing on my heel in the left photo. This happens when I’m tired, and it’s really hard to correct. Heel striking gets a bad press; it’s not necessarily bad to heel strike, but what happens when we land on our heels is that, if we are overstriding, and our knees aren’t directly underneath our centre of gravity when we land, it can put undue pressure on our knees. I’m taking short strides in this photo as I’m running uphill, but I should be on my toes to help me up the hill. Every time I land on my heel, I’m effectively braking (see right hand photo) as I lose energy through the ground the longer my foot is there.
So there you go. Lots for me to improve on. What are your bad form habits that you’d like to improve on?