I use (as everyone should) proprioceptive cues to help improve my stride. I think that I can safely say that these cues have improved my running form more than any other aspect that I have learned. At the same time, it's a subtle, slow improvement compared to Yoga, strength workouts, etc.
Why? Because they require concentration and discipline. And that concentration and discipline is why I run to begin with. It clears your mind of "other things" but at the same time fills your mind with the ammunition to run faster.
I have a few favorite cues to show as examples if you're not familiar with them.
1) Falling Forward: This one is simple, just leaning a little forward at the ankles (not at the waist). This cue is great for preventing over striding.
2) Navel to Spine: This is concentrating on pulling your belly button inward toward your spine while running. What is does is use your deep abs that stabilize the pelvis and lower spine. This is turn puts more of the force you generate to the ground.
3) Pulling the Road: This is imagining that the road is a giant non-motorized treadmill. A non-motorized treadmill requires you to pull the belt back with your feet. It teaches you to generate thrust earlier and minimize ground contact time.
4) Floppy Feet: Simple, concentrate on relaxing your feet. I always found this amazing. I would concentrate on this late in a long run and find my pace quicken without any additional effort. But remember this isn't floppy legs, use your legs to generate the force, relax your feet.
5) Butt Squeeze: This is concentrating on squeezing the cheek on the side of the body that your foot is landing. It primarily helps yo build stability in the hips, pelvis and lower back. Again, the result is more force to the ground instead of wasted internally.
There are more! And I can talk about them or explain the above further. But what I want to talk about is one that I haven't found that helpful, until now.
I am trying to increase my speed for the TC 1 Mile run! And I haven't had the time to make it out to the track so the treadmill is my buddy right now. Today I ran 6 intervals at a 6 minute pace for .25 mile with a 2 minute fast walk or faster break in between. My other fast intervals of each week has been 5 minute pace intervals of about .15 miles. These are faster than what I am use to running. Much faster.
These are TOUGH for me! And I start feeling like that I can't make it at times. That is when DRIVING THE THIGH is the most helpful cue. It's weird! Would you think that concentrating on making a more forceful (forward and up) movement of your thigh, make that much of a difference? I promise you, it does. It's amazing how more strong you feel when you do this. Basically a more forceful upward swing cause an equal and opposite reaction on the down swing of the leg onto the road. It may be that at first, this cue only works when working hard on short intervals but I am sure that it will help for long runs in the future as well.
That's all for now! My next post is likely telling you how the 1 mile run went. I know I can run a 6 minute mile. I don't know if I can do it by next Thursday!
P.S. Have you met Julie? She seems pretty sweet and it is energizing to see her posts because of the excitement that she has about running. Now to get her to a triathlon! ;-)
Oh, and she has some free swag for you to win!