I’m ashamed to admit that an email that screamed “40% Off Running Assessment” from my local physiotherapists (Six Physio Fleet Street) had me signing up faster than you could say “boo”. As I’ve just started running again, with a 10km race looming ahead, I felt that I could use a bit of advice on how to improve my running. The fact that it was half priced just hastened my decision (is this typical Malaysian behaviour?!).
If you think about it, no one actually ‘learns’ how to run. You just run. Then you get injured and stop running! I needed to break that vicious cycle. After I changed into my running clothes and shoes, Sarah Green greeted me at the start of my appointment. We spent the first 15 minutes talking through my running goals. I had 3 specific goals:
- I want to avoid injuries and continue running
- I want to increase my distance – move from 10kms to 10 miles to 21kms to a marathon
- I want to run a 10km below an hour
We then spent another 15 minutes talking through some of the injuries I’ve been having, both related and unrelated to running. I spoke about my right shoulder surgery (more about that another day), a dodgy right ankle from sprains I sustained during my stint playing loads of netball and basketball, the pain I previously got behind my left knee after running my last 10km race back in 2008 (yes it was THAT long ago).
Next, Sarah had me running on the treadmill, videoed my run and made notes. I ran for about 15 minutes at a comfortable pace. After I stopped, Sarah made some comments on my running posture, my strides and my cadence. Here was what she had to say:
- I overstride and land on my heel.
- When I land on the ground, my body weight is not stacked properly.
- My chest was not in an upright position (slightly slouching).
- I spent quite a lot of time on the ground (which is not efficient for running and also increases the risk of injuries).
- There’s a high possiblity I’m not activating my glutes enough and this meant that my quads and calves were overused.
She then coached me through a series of exercises for my hips and glutes – such as one legged squats and hip flexors. My hips were extremely stiff and I had a lot of trouble tucking my hips under! She also suggested focusing on working out my core muscles rather than doing lunges and squats in the gym (which was what I was doing). My quads were apparently much stronger than my glutes and were doing all the hard work. The strength imbalance may contribute to more injuries.
Some of the exercises seemed easy when she described them but it was actually hard work and at the end of the ‘exercise’ segment I felt tired. She popped me back on the treadmill and asked me to run whilst thinking about my posture and cadence. Surprisingly, the little tweaks she suggested and the fact that I was more aware of how I was running made a difference to my running.
My running felt ‘lighter’ and quicker but I did feel quite out of breath after 10 minutes. Sarah said that my muscles were being activated in the right way and that takes a bit of getting used to. In the second video, it was quite obvious I was landing on my mid-foot instead of on my heel after Sarah’s instructions, and my weight was stacking up nicely at each stride.
I left the 1 hour session feeling better about my running (and my left glute was aching!). Since then, I have completed my 10km run and set a 10 mile target for the end of April this year. I found the assessment extremely valuable (in preventing further injury) and would definitely not hesitate to go back to Sarah again. It was great value at £57. The most difficult bit is to implement all that she had suggested and to REMIND myself to do the exercises whenever I was in the gym. Here’s hoping my running journey this time around is injury-free.