I am attempting to run barefoot every day of 2015 and cover 1000 miles in doing so. Things are going well but I thought it was time that someone had a good look at my form.
You can read my thoughts on how it is going and what I am learning each day on my Barefoot 365 facebook page and each month here on Barefoot Beginner. If you want to join in then we have a Barefoot Mile a Day facebook group here. You will be made very welcome.
A few weeks ago, I attended a running clinic by Ben Le Vesconte. I was curious to see what someone with Ben’s knowledge would make of my running form.
Ben gave us some background and then we were off to be filmed on a treadmill. We ran at 8kph and them 13 kph. I had not run in shoes for over 6 months so I slipped mine off and went for it whilst Ben filmed from the side.
You can click on each image to see the video footage. Just a few seconds on each case. (A new window will open and then you might get a white screen for a few seconds whilst video loads)
8kph felt slow but I settled into my usual pitter-patter and Ben asked if I had ever run with a metronome. I did start out with one a couple of years ago but have not run with one for a long time. I think that increasing my cadence to 180 bpm was one of two big contributors to changing my technique.
I don’t get any niggles when running barefoot but do in footwear so wanted Ben to have a look at how I went on in a pair of Vivobarefoot Evos. I have not worn any footwear whilst running for running for a long time and it felt strange and very, very loud.
Then quicker in shoes. The main issue I get in shoes is in my calves. It was the thing that caused my main injuries in my shod days in conventional shoes. It was much less in minimal shoes but eventually my calves would succumb. It simply doesn’t happen barefoot and my thinking is that if I run every day barefoot without issue for a year then maybe I will imprint this form and be able to replicate it in minimal shoes.
We headed back for some analysis and I was pleased to say that Ben was pleased with my tecnique. He may have been over generous but when slowing the footage down, he could see where my point of contact was and put me into the category of a skilled runner. He then set about improving things further.
This was the part of the day that I was most interested in. I wanted to know what exercises I could do to fend off injury. Things were split into flexibilty and strength. I am pleased that my idea of reducing the heel raise on my squats by using a thick book and gradually turning over the pages went down OK. I was shocked at how little flexibilty I have in my quads and came away with drills to improve that.
The biggest thing to come out of the day for me was my lack of flexibility. It needs some work. Nothing that diligence and patience can’t remedy and I think that in my quest to be a lifelong runner, it is going to be important.
We did quite a bit of jumping at 180bpm. Both stationary and then on the treadmill. I have been doing this whilst out running and it always leads to be getting back into my stride more upright. It is strangely addictive…and then we had another go at being filmed. This time we all went barefoot with a metronome set at 180bpm
Then quicker. My form worked well at the slower pace but if I want to go quicker, I need to pull the heel up with my hamstring and pull it through and down quickly. At the moment, I don’t do that effectively and my cadence increases rather than my stride length. This needs some practice as well as being more upright and open through the shoulders and keeping my hips forward. Whenever I do that now, I find myself flying along.
There were 12 of us in the group and it took all day to analyse the before and after for everyone. I learnt a lot from watching everyone else and listening to Ben answer their questions.
I came away feeling good about the experiment I am doing on myself. My form has changed completely and I am running pretty well (although there is clearly room for improvement).
The two main things that have done that are increasing my cadence to about 180bpm (or higher) and taking off my shoes and running barefoot regularly. Hopefully, the strength and flexibility drills, I learnt today will help me be robust enough to handle it.
You can see Ben’s ‘Running is A Skill’ facebook page here. and can email him at Runningisaskill@gmail.com.
A huge shout out to Anne Rosbottom for getting this day organised. We will hopefully be having some follow up with Anne sometime soon.