Running form has often focused on concepts like cadence and footstrike to create change and improve efficiency. But a “top down” approach – focusing on the arms and torso – is an innovative and accessible way to become a stronger, healthier runner.
Running form has gotten a great deal of attention over the years, with a variety of books and techniques promising to fix the way you run and make you injury free. Fads come and go, but the emphasis has often been the same: focus on concepts like foot strike, cadence and a forward lean.
All runners have their own unique form, and there isn’t one ideal that fits everyone. Focusing on a traditional approach by making changes from the “bottom up” (such as foot strike) can create new problems for runners. If a form change shifts the body’s impact to a new area that isn’t conditioned to handle the load, injury can result.
But what if we took a new approach to running form that emphasizes working from the top-down, creating less risk for injury and making it more accessible to all runners, whether new or experienced? If a change in form can make running feel better and more efficient, can’t we all benefit?
Paul Mackinnon on the top-down approach to fixing your form
This week’s guest on the podcast is Paul Mackinnon, a former semi-pro hockey player who has become an expert on gait retraining. Paul is from Melbourne, Australia and has worked with many high level athletes over the years to improve their running form, including former podcast guest and 2:19 marathoner Peter Bromka.
My discussion with Paul is a masterclass on form. Despite this being a complex topic, his ideas are easy to grasp and have made me rethink some commonly held concepts about running technique. Some of the topics we discuss on the episode include:
- Paul’s “top down” approach to thinking about running form and technique
- 3 of the most common problem areas for runners
- How your arms create lift in your running
- The underestimated torso – why we need to focus here first
- The impact of running shoes on form
- Why the “don’t fix what isn’t broken” mentality may not be the best way to approach running technique
- The importance of body awareness to create change in your form
This week’s episode can help runners learn how to improve their form at any stage of the game. Enjoy!
Links & Resources from the Show:
- Learn more about Paul and how to improve your running technique
- Get 25% off your first month membership at The Balanced Runner here, or use code strengthrunning
- Follow Paul on Instagram and Facebook
- Watch Pauls videos on YouTube and Vimeo
- Download our cheat sheet on form cues
- Read more on running form and efficiency
Thank you DrinkLMNT!
A big thanks to DrinkLMNT for their support of this episode! They make electrolyte drinks for athletes and low-carb folks with no sugar, artificial ingredients, or colors. And you can get a free sampler pack of 4 flavors and 8 individual packets when you pay $5 in shipping.
DrinkLMNT’s products have some of the highest sodium concentrations that you can find. Anybody who runs a lot knows that sodium, as well as other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, are essential to our performance and how we feel throughout the day.
The citrus flavor has quickly become my favorite. I’m drinking one a day now to help me get enough fluids in our dry Colorado air. It’s tasty and delicious and I find that I’m not peeing every 45 minutes throughout the day, which might be an indication I wasn’t eating enough sodium.
There’s now mounting evidence that higher sodium intake levels are not unhealthy – and athletes need substantially more than your typical sedentary person. Of course, ask your doctor if you’re worried. But for those athletes running outside in the heat, an electrolyte replacement makes a lot of sense. So check out DrinkLMNT to try their new flavor or get a free sampler pack.
Thank You Gold Coast Marathon
We’re supported by the Gold Coast Marathon which takes place in Queensland, Australia on July 2nd, 2023. Get yourself a memory of a lifetime and commit to this amazing destination race in one of the most beautiful countries that I’ve ever visited. You can run the marathon or any distance down to 5k, but the marathon course is flat and fast with only 75 meters of elevation gain. Over 60% of finishers self-report a PR at the end of the race.
I spent 6 weeks in Australia, with one of them being in Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. The beaches are stunning, the people are friendly, and the natural environment of this region is so beautiful. If I could go back there and run this race with you, I would in a heartbeat.
The Gold Coast Marathon is a World Athletics Label Road Race and this will be the 43rd running of it. Get yourself that shiny new PR on a fast course – with a destination race you’re going to love, at the Gold Coast Marathon on July 2nd. Learn more here, but don’t wait because early bird pricing ends on April 28th.