You may be familiar with the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know”. Whether I am giving advice to someone about lifting weights or running I never assume that person has good technique. It’s not meant to be disrespectful, I have just seen enough people run, squat, walk and breath terribly that I assume everyone needs to start at priority #1 of the pyramid.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and most people don’t know that they have significant energy leaks (priority #1) and poor running form (priority #2). It isn’t until I ask them to breath diaphragmatically that they discover they have somehow lost control of their Phrenic nerve (controls their diaphragm). So we start there. Go back to Part 2 of the priority pyramid to review the importance of diaphragmatic control.
When I teach my running programs, I always start with priority #1. As we start to progress into priority #2 I break down run mechanics into components. We build on the components, tie them together and speed them up. If you struggle to find balance standing on one leg, or hold a dead-bug position, I can make a pretty accurate assertion that we will have a running problem.
I use a lot of running cues to remind people of what I want them to do. The key is, you have to know what the cue feels like in order to apply it to your stride
Let me take you through the stages of learning a skill so you can have a better understanding.
This is where you don’ know what you don’t know. I’ve explained this in a previous post, but if you have pain, you have dysfunction.
Pain = Dysfunction
Pain tells you there is dysfunction, but it doesn’t tell you what it is. Perhaps another runner or a coach tells you there is something off with your gait. A dysfunction exists, but what is it?
Lets say you come to me for an assessment. Video analysis of your running gait and inability to perform some of the assessment postures and movements will reveal your inefficiencies. With the use of video you can be shown what optimal looks like and it can be contrasted with your assessment. In my programs, I use visuals, verbal cues, drills and props to make you aware of your movements.
In this phase, dysfunction still exists, but you are aware of it. There can be a lot of frustration in this phase as you are aware of the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
In this phase, you start to tie everything together and your stride is starting too look really good. It isn’t second nature yet. If you lose focus or get distracted your form will slip. Drills from the above phase are still the same because you need the repetition. In this phase things will tend to feel awkward until it starts to become second nature.
Now, its time to start repatterning. Here your workouts are broken down into intervals so you can focus on your technique. The intervals will start to get longer and the rest will get shorter. In the repatterining phase there is a tendency to run faster so the breaks are welcome. Eventually you can go for continuous runs with timers that remind you to bring you focus back to your form. You can run with a metronome set between 170-190 bp as a cue to keep up your cadence.
Alright! Now your form is looking great. NOW you can start focusing on your programming. Since your have already improved your running economy you are running faster and with less effort. Training the four corners of your programming will have you running laps around your former self, and others ;)
On the other side of this process lies an upgrade of your current stride, allowing you to run faster and farther without all the milage.