0800 040 7526
Want to run faster? Many of us are have-a-go runners; some of us run competitively, or have at least done the odd 10k or half marathon for charity. But if we really wanted to step up and become great, what running tips could we get from double Olympic and European champion Mo Farah? How can we run faster?
Run3D, a company that analyses runners’ gait and is part of the University of Oxford, analysed footage of Mo Farah running to see what we, the lesser mortal, could learn from his style. Factors from arm position to foot strike were looked at and Dr Jessica Leitch came up with 9 points that help to make him (and could help you become) a great runner and to run faster.
Foot strike: The traditional way of running (in the West) is with a heel strike first, and then rolling through the foot and pushing off on the toes. Farah, however, hits the ground with his mid-fiit first. This is known as mid-foot striking, and by adopting this style the impact or “braking” as the foot hits the ground is less, reducing forces through the knee and the hip. It also makes running more efficient and allows for a faster cadence.
Foot position: his foot lands only marginally in front of him, again reducing the impact and braking effect. This “falling forward” into the run means that momentum is carried forward, not vertically.
Hang time: the amount of time that the foot is in contact with the ground is known as “stance time”. The ground equals friction, much less so the air. Mo has a very short stance time – milliseconds – so less energy is lost with ground contact. He is flying!
Twist and wiggle: body movement is measured in three planes – up and down, side to side, and rotational. While running we want most of the movement to be forward, and too much movement in the other planes can waste energy. So when Mo runs, his hips stay relatively still with little side to side movement.
Relaxed style: relax the jaw, don’t hunch the shoulders, don’t clench the fists. A relaxed running style uses less energy and means that you will run more efficiently.
Trailing leg position: just after the foot leaves the ground, Mo flicks the heel up towards the bottom like a sprinter. The shortens the pivot of the leg and means that less effort is needed to get the leg back forward for the next stride.
Cadence: this is the rate at which the feet hit the ground. A high cadence will mean greater speed. Many of the points above allow Mo to run at a greater cadence, and go faster!
Arm position: As he runs, Farah keeps his hands high and the elbows very bent. This again reduces the length of the arm level and means that there is less energy required to get back to the starting position. This generates a more powerful arm drive.
Forward, not vertical: all of the points mentioned contribute to less vertical bouncing and more forward movement, so his leg energy goes forwards, not up and down.
Even you, the amateur runner can immediately try to use some of these techniques to go faster straight away! If you need more help with technique, getting fit, strength training for running or a training programme, then we can help with some one-on-one personal training sessions.
By Adam Atkinson