Coach told me last Friday that he's seen me overstriding in workouts lately. So, today I thought I'd talk a bit about a) what that means, b) why I think, even as a seasoned runner and a form expert, I've been doing this, and c) how to fix it.
A) What does overstriding even mean? Let's start by examining what a proper stride should look like. Knee drives forward, foot goes into dorsiflexion and lands UNDER body directly on midfoot, foot goes into plantar flexion and pawback occurs to propel body forward while foot swings up toward the butt. Overstriding, on the other hand, often presents as throwing ones leg out further in front of the body than it should be, thus the foot landing IN FRONT of the body and often on the heel, making it more difficult to execute proper pawback and propel body forward. Basically, you're spending MORE TIME on the ground than in the air (not good), thus increasing risk of injury and utilizing unnecessary energy.
B) Why do I think I've been overstriding in my workouts? Well, a couple reasons. First, I didn't recover as quickly as I thought I would from the Denver Colfax half marathon back in May. Thus, I thought I would be moving faster in my workouts than I actually was. So I was getting frustrated, and in my case (and maybe some of you do this too) when I try to go faster, unless I'm explicitly telling myself NOT to overstride, I tend to do exactly that. Because there are two ways to go faster while running, right: increase stride length or increase stride frequency. For some reason, my body always wants to do the former. Second reason: similarly, because I wasn't quite recovered, these workouts were making me tired. And when I'm tired, the same thing happens: my form goes to shit and I overstride.
C) How do we fix overstriding? There are many things we can do! One is to perform accelerating 100m strides a couple times/week. Your body's biomechanics tend to be better the faster you run (and for short periods of time) so these will create GOOD muscle memories and tighten up your form. Another way to improve your form is to practice proper drills. There are many you can do - search YouTube or ask a running coach like yours truly for specifics. And finally, PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. Every time you leave the house for a run, think about your stride. Think about where your foot is landing, what your arms are doing, is your foot going into dorsi and plantar flexion, etc. Or schedule a form session with me at my gym in Wheat Ridge and I promise we'll work toward getting your form in top shape!