I've tried two different running coaches this year, hoping to get someone with an expert eye to look at my form, and suggest improvements. But finding someone who knows anything about forefoot striking is not easy. My wife eventually found someone styled as the Paleo Runner, and bought me a 2 hour 1 on 1 training session for my birthday. It was certainly interesting. On the one hand, there was a load of stuff I just don't buy - the paleo diet, for one. And as far as running went, he was a Chi runner, so wanted me to use gravity to help me move forward, and to increase cadence to increase pace. Again, I just don't buy this - the only place gravity is ever going to take you is the ground, and all the other on-line coaches that I like and admire agree that 180 ppm is the optimum cadence - and 180 cadence is one of the few things I can actually do. On the other hand, he was a good runner, and did spot my main fault - prancing. I was stepping over those logs OK, but I looked like a prancing horse because I was also over-striding. And in an attempt to run tall and straight, I was actually leaning slightly back, exacerbated again by the overstride. The session was worth it just to get those 2 things sorted - it's made a massive difference to the efficiency and enjoyment of my running.
The second coach was a runner/osteopath and we thought he might be able to offer advice on my calf soreness and my wife's hip soreness. But no. As a devotee of the Alexander technique, he believed that running starts with the head.... at which point I'm afraid he lost me. But he was also a talented runner himself and made some useful suggestions about my arms (which hardly move at all) and my stride pattern, which I've tried to improve subsequently.
So, what am I saying? Um, good running coaches are like hen's teeth. Eric! Come to England for a visit! But having someone cast an eye over your running form is really useful - there's a limit to how much you can self coach.
Hi Eric - many thanks for the reply. Very excited about you maybe coming to UK. Book me in!
And thanks for the advice! I've been working hard at the bow and arrow stuff as a result and early impressions are that driving the stance leg into the ground is helping with some sore calf tendons - presumably because it forces all the muscles involved to engage and fire, thus sharing the work/strain around.
My wife also thinks I look much less like a horse.... but see the photos!
Hey Paul - I am working on a UK trip for this Spring, so stay tuned. In the mean time, have you been working on the transition phase of training and doing the drills?
If so, be sure to add some of the short, fast hill sprints to help you get that hip extension and to get away from the prancing. Another key drill is to run stairs fairly fast, with a focus on exploding off each step.
When run over logs, you also need to drive the other leg into the ground - like the bow and arrow analogy I talk of in the book.