The mechanics of running better are the easy part. What I'll detail here is in my opinion the hardest part.

Many years ago I worked with a runner during an early part of their season when the volume of training they were doing was higher than usual and the intensity was lower than later in the season.

They were tired but curious to see if I could help them run more quickly.

They admitted that although they ran at a high level and their physiology had been analysed and shown to support elite level performance, they were not performing as well as they could. Coaches had told them they were not efficient in their running action.

One of the most striking inefficiencies was that one of their arms rotated around across their torso as they bought it forward.

This is unnecessary movement and unnecessary energy expenditure during every stride.

After a session or two working together, I recall the runner coming back to me and saying that without any thought to do so, they had found their arm was no longer overrotating as it came through. It was going back and forwards like their other arm. Or at least it had been.

The runner had decided that the arm not rotating around them didn't feel right and after 20 minutes of concentrating on it, they had managed to revert back to their old arm action.

I remember being lost for words. I don't remember what I said.

The major problem with running more easily is that it feels strange.

The strange feeling proves harder to tolerate than the difficulty of a more cumbersome running action for most.

Many reject the new better way and would rather opt for returning to the old way, which in the short term feels easier but in the long term halts progress.

The way that you run at the moment feels natural to you. That means that your current level of performance feels natural too.

Many of us would rather opt to do gruelling work to build fitness on top of our current running action than to change our style to be more efficient. That sort of work requires more patience, focus and uncertainty. It's easier to pay sweat than patient attention any day.

Sweat will take us so far by itself.
Better technique and motion will take us so far by themselves.

Both together are necessary to really change our speed.

As I said at the start, embracing the new easier action is the hardest part.

To get somebody moving easier can be done in minutes or hours.

Integrating moving the new, easier way into practise, training and competing takes lots of attentive work over weeks and months.

Can you do the hardest bit and make it easy for yourself?

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Training + Rehab