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Teaching Running Form and Style: Same Cadence with different speeds

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Old November 24th 16, 08:19 AM posted to rec.running
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Default Teaching Running Form and Style: Same Cadence with different speeds

Well, 16 years later, I'm still teaching pretty much the same ball/heel form. You see the same from Danny Dreyer (ChiRunning) and Nicholas Romanov (POSE Method). Big boost came to ball/heel running from Born to Run and Caballo Blanco (RIP).

The halls of rec.running hold many memories. Now all you can hear is the echo of footsteps.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Love, friendship, and on the run,
Ozzie Gontang

On Wednesday, March 10, 1999 at 12:00:00 AM UTC-8, Ozzie Gontang wrote:
Greetings Fellow Runners,

I had emailed to a few of the steady posters to rec.running and received
one reply back. So I thought I'd open it up to the whole group.

I am writing to ask for some of your knowledge, wisdom, critique, and
scientific method approach to observable events. Pleae help me explain
properly what I observe and can do and can teach others to do. Where are
my misconceptions, lack of physics and physiological knowledge, or
illogical thought processes that don't make sense. How would you put it
differently to help me and others educate ourselves better.

Thanks in advance for this on going dialogue with you, fellow contributors
of rec.running and rec.sport.triathlon whose views I respect....although
some of the edges can be pretty cutting. Having hung around rec.running
for 5 or 6 years now, I know it is truly a place where one's answers are
questioned. That's why I'm still here. As I've mentioned befo Reality
always wins. Our only job is to get in touch with it. Thanks for you
help in this on going process.


I've included at the bottom Thad's reply to Pete's response to Andy's
response to Ozzie's post. These were all part of the Same Cadence thread.

For your scrutiny and feedback:


George Sheehan commented about running around a track and realizing that
the 5 minute/mile runner had the same leg turn over as he had, doing his 8
minute/mile pace.

I can be running with you at 8 minutes/mile in the same cadence. If I
keep my body erect and lean from the ankle (which is unnoticeable to most
people) I can keep the same cadence as you at 8 minutes/mile but I start to
pull away. I have to bring my foot through the stride cycle faster to get
it down in the same cadence but I am still in your cadence.

When I ask people what I did differently, they inevitably say that I took
bigger strides.

My observation is that the majority of people don't pick up their knees as
they run. They do allow the lower leg to pendulum forward. That movement
allows the lower leg to land in front of their center of gravity. In my
mind's eye, it is that movement which creates the overstride. Also most of
these runner's who don't lift their knees as they run, do lift their entire
center of gravity with each step. (see Exercise I and II below)

When we do the same exercise again and I have these people catch up with
me, the majority of them take bigger steps, which are overstrides and is
therefore harder for them to keep up with me. When they catch up, I
maintain the same cadence and with a little more lean of my erect body at
the ankle, I start to pull away again.

While I am taking larger stride lengths, the length is measured from my
planting of one foot - which lands under my center of gravity and doesn't
decelerate my forward momentum - to the planting of my other foot - which
also lands under my center of gravity. To maintain the cadence of the
other runner, I have to bring my foot/leg through a larger range of motion
faster than the range of motion of other runner.

For most runners who don't lift their knees while running, when they
attempt to catch up with me, their stride becomes an overstride as they are
taking a bigger step in front of their body or center of gravity -
therefore slowing themselves down more.

An example of maintaining the same cadence but moving at different rates is
seen in the Marine Silent Drill Team. The normal military stride is 31
inches where the marcher lands on the back of the heel of the boot/shoe.

For the Silent Drill Team, when then are marching in place 12 across, the
end person on your right as you look at them can continue to march in place
maintaining cadence and the people to the stationary marcher's right side
can scribe a circle around him - while maintaining cadence.

So the stationary person is marching in place and turning 360 degrees.
The person at the other end is scribing the 360 degrees in cadence. His
stride length is whatever it takes to get him around the circle so as to
stay in cadence and in a straight line with the other members of the drill
team. As they march there is minimal if any vertical movement.

When I have finished coaching someone regarding landing midsole or
ball/heel, they don't have to train any harder to find themselves going 30
seconds to a minute/mile faster. They have diminished their vertical
movement, they have diminished their overstride, they find running
subjectively easier, they find they are running faster with a subjective
report of diminished perceived effort.

I will compile any and all responses should you be able to help me better
explain scientifically what I observe and have shared with several thousand
runners in dealing with improving their running form and style.

Exercise I

A neuromuscular pattern creates a problem in teaching people to lift their
knees and keep the lower leg relaxed. When they lift the knee, the
hamstring pulls the lower leg back. The lower leg is in a way spring
loaded. By that I mean when they allow the lower leg to swing forward
while running, it will over swing. That overswing and the vertical
movement of the entire body, create for an overstride.

(If the knee lifted, the lower leg wouldn't pendulum forward as much.
e.g. A skate boarder pushing off several times. Note that his/her foot
lands under the center of gravity/flat footed or on the ball. The foot
scribes an oval/ellipse going in a clockwise movement and not so much the
pendulum movement of the vertically displacing runner.)

By overstirde I mean that the runner's foot lands in front of their center
of gravity. Most often the runner lands on the back of the heel of the
shoe - as the lower leg is swinging back (almost like a mini goose step).
The point of contact is in front of the center of gravity. This creates a
deceleration or stopping movement. There is a greater vertical force into
the ground by having the foot land in front of the center of gravity. To
get to the next step, most runners in this form lift their entire body

(Ask several people to pick up one of their legs. You will notice that when
many of them lift their thigh so that it is parallel to the ground the
lower leg will be bent back. Neuromuscularly the hamstring is contracting
when it need not. It's a habit. When you bring it to their attention
and have them lift up the leg, it takes a second or less for them to let
the lower leg relax and hang:
| A | B
o___ When most lift the knee from the side it looks like A and not B. o___
/ |
/ |
\ \

This is one of the neuromuscular training techniques I use in working on
running form and style.

Exercise II

For a majority of runners who don't pick up their knees, they are use to
vertically moving their entire bodies up and down. To see what I mean ask
several people to jump over an obstacle (e.g. log, box) which is only 4 or
5 inches high. You will notice that their entire body goes up and over.
For many they land on the back of the heel of the planting foot.

One can jump over the small obstacle without elevating the entire center of
gravity by simply picking up the front leg and quickly placing it back down
once it has cleared the hurdle. The same is done with the trailing leg.

I believe running can be defined as a horizontal movement over the earth's
In running, both feet are off the ground during the flight phase between
toe-off and foot-plant. So any extra vertical movement than necessary
can be considered wasted energy.

-------start of post to rec.running by Thad Smith

In article , Y-Rotation wrote:
Andrew Coggan wrote:

. To make a blanket recommendation that people
lengthen their strides (which is what you have done by claiming that one
should strive to maintain a constant cadence) is to encourage about 90%
of all people to overstride, resulting in an increase in energy cost.

This is not a recommendation. It's an observed/observable fact.

The leg is essentially a compound pendulum. Its first Natural
Frequency (NF) also called the fundamental frequency is somewhere
around 1.7 Hz. Not an official figure. I ballparked it using my
right leg.

Hmmm, according to my calculations (after looking it up), a simple
pendulum with a natural frequency of 1.7 Hz is about 8.6 cm long on
Earth. That's an awfully short leg. Perhaps you meant 1.7 second
period, which would be about 72 cm long for a simple pendulum, longer
for one in which the mass is distributed along the length.

The leg being much like a pendulum, it follows that a runner will
expend the least amount of energy when his leg turnover is related to
his leg's natural frequency. Higher running speed is achieved by
increasing the amplitude of the leg's swing i.e. the stride length.
Just as in the case of a pendulum, the runner must apply greater
initial force impulse, basically he's got to lift his knee higher and
produce more of a back kick.

The leg is not swinging freely in running, though. Granted, on
recovery, once the foot is lifted it can swing fairly freely forward.
Once the foot is planted, though, the leg, with body attached, pivots
about the planted foot, which is not the same model as a pendulum
whose period is determined by length and gravity.

The leg's NF varies slightly as it is inversely proportional to the
length of the leg. Thus we see the long legged runner running at a
slightly lower turnover then the little guy.

Actually, inversely proportional to the square root of the length, at
least for pendulums.

Pete, the math wiz

-------end of post to rec.running by Thad Smith

In health and on the run,
Ozzie Gontang
Maintainer - rec.running FAQ
Director, San Diego Marathon Clinic, est. 1975

Mindful Running: http://www.mindfulness.com


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