Monday, March 21, 2016

Barefoot Drills and Strides


It was kind of strange to hear my name called out on the Endurance Planet ATC Podcast. The question was from a woman who wants to get down to barefoot running. Tawnee mentioned my process of going out once a week doing drills and strides barefoot as a way to get used to barefoot running. I've been doing a great deal of research on runners recently. Asking them their process. How many runs a week, what kind of runs each week, how does running feel and what's hurting. In the running store most people are in a hurry and there's no time to do a full analysis but I always watch runners with a full analysis in mind. What I see and hear is a trend that I'm trying to undo.

Ask any runner who started the activity as a sport in school either on the track or in cross country and you'll here the same thing. Every workout or race started with a warm up, drills and strides and then the workout or race. Depending on the type of athlete especially track athlete the drills may be different and the amount and effort of the strides would be different but essentially that was the process.

Now ask any adult runner who didn't start in high school and most of them have no idea was running drills are. Then watch the runners like I do and you'll see form flaws that could be fixed by a regular dose of drills and strides. The biggest form flaws are lifestyle. People spend so much time sitting at the computer or with a phone in hand and the flaws look like they are still sitting at the computer.

Go to youtube and search running form drills.

Now the process is this:
1. Do the drills with perfect form - Relaxed shoulders, neutral head (absoloutely critical) that is looking out not down.
2. Speed of the drill is controlled by form. As soon as you look down or hunch your shoulders slow down. Form trumps speed.
3. Finish each drill set with a set of strides (4-10 strides) - 20 seconds in perfect form. I was taught to picture athletes. For the first half (2-3-4- or 5) of the stride set run like Edwin Moses for the second set run like Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson or Pick your sprinter. Recover fully which should be 30 seconds to a minute. You are not sprinting these you are using form to control. If form breaks slow down.

Now to the point of this. My goal for everyone is to get to as close to barefoot as possible in doing these drills. I've thought at length about this. What's more important, going barefoot or doing the strides? I think barefoot is more important. I see so many older people with foot problems I rank taking care of your feet above all else and the best way you can take care of your feet (in my opinion) is spend time barefoot on a soft surface. Everyone has a patch of grass close by. If you don't do drills and don't do strides at least go to that grass surface, take off your shoes and walk around. Once you are comfortable walking around, jog around. Once your comfortable jogging around start incorporating drills. Once you can do all the basic drills (high knees, butt kicks, AB skips, Carioka) then add strides slowly. Start with 4. when that becomes comfortable do 6. Get to 10. Put this process at the start or end of a run and you'll begin to undo all those lifestyle things than screw with your running form.

Barefoot Ted says barefoot running is a mindset. I fully agree with that idea. Once your mind clicks and you look forward to your once a week session in the grass you will begin to feel what natural running form is.
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