I have done more reading and here is a new summary about advanced running techniques that will complement the how to run guidelines I posted previously.
I also had the chance to discuss with Cyrille from Volodalen detailing and explaining the words below.
Should we all follow those advanced running techniques?
First of all, it is generally assumed that you are able to run for at least 30mn at slow pace before taking any training. Anyway, you can still get to know how you should do it properly.
The second point: are the techniques good for all of us? Like for clothes, cars, there are also trends in sciences and applied sciences like biomechanic. So, in the 90′s we were all supposed to run on our heels and now in the 2010′s we are all supposed to run on the front of the foot…
Well, like marathon runners and sprinters have a different ratio in muscle fiber types, people are not all foot-front runners, what we call “natural runner” nowadays.
There are about half of the people that naturally “run on the front of the foot” and about the other half “running on the heel”. And each person should follow the theory that is closer to his/her own natural running mechanisms.
How to I know to which group I belong to?
Do you feel better jumping on your toes or standing in squat (seating) position? The jumpers are usually part of the people that should run more on the front of the foot.
Some people stand in the squat (seating) position but with the heels not touching the ground, that is a sign that you are not so comfortable. Push it a bit further (although it might involve some other postural constraints) and really squat, close to the floor, calves and legs touching each-other. Some people can’t even stay balanced with heels on the ground in this position.
I’m part of the “heelers”, should I throw all this new theory away?
Not really, the nature is mostly linear, so you can understand the techniques presented here and apply them to the degree matching your physiology.
In my case, I’m comfortable both jumping on my toes and in the squat position. I can squat close to the floor, feel good and stay balanced. So you could say that I am in between the front and heel landing groups. However heel landing hurts my knees. Since I apply the running techniques and advanced running techniques below, I can run trails for hundred of kilometers without feeling the pain I had in the past, after running only 5km.
So, again, read those advices and feel the degree to which they match your physiology.
Relativity of the advices
Take point 8 of the running techniques “Your arms should always move on parallel plans“. That is generally true, although it makes more sense to “heelers”.
Basically “heelers” are more stable and less dynamic. They will use their arms to initiate the dynamic to the front and less to to stay balanced, so they better avoid parasitic moves to the side.
On the opposite, the now so called natural runner, front-foot runners are more dynamic and less stable, therefore they will use more their arms to stay balanced and may follow arms trajectories not totally in a vertical plan.
Advanced techniques, the Forward cycle
Point 3 of the techniques: “pushing the ground to the rear” also contributes to a forward cycle which is less resistive and returns maximum energy into the next step. This move to the rear must start even before landing!
Some other tips linked to point 3 and the forward cycle:
15/Bring back your legs under your body quickly. That is a forward move (picture on the right below). Don’t let them drag behind you (picture on the left below).
16/Your foot should be soft (elastic) to convert the energy, your body should be firm to avoid absorbing the energy.
17/To put less weight (and impact) on the leg landing, the opposite leg should be going upward on the touch.
18/Spend a minimum of time touching the ground. All this time on the ground energy will be converted into heat or dissipated, vibrating into your body. Instead benefit from the elastic effect of a quick response.
All the techniques and advance techniques illustrated in the animation below (right is the advised forward cycle move vs left the reverse cycle).
The forward cycle, the running biomechanic and the running world is extensively explained on the Volodalen[fr] web site.
Pictures and animation graciously provided by Volodalen.com