What’s the best running style for each individual runner? How is it learned?
This blog has previously noted widely emerging running trends, including barefoot, minimalist, run-walk-run and chi running. How does a runner know what to choose?
In a New York Times wellness article last week, author Gretchen Reynolds cited a study that suggests each runner realizes one’s own ideal running form simply through persistence and self-discovery.
Reynolds explains that the small-scale, short-term study in England evaluated a group of women (in their 20s and 30s) who were new to running. Over 10 weeks, none changed where their feet struck the ground, yet over the 10-week span all improved their stability and their capacity to use oxygen more economically.
This was primarily achieved when each runner made individual adjustments to how their bodies moved.
To quote the article:
The results “raise an interesting question in regards to teaching people to run,”[researcher Isabel] Moore says. “If runners can self-optimize,” as the women in this study seemed to do, then “maybe we should teach runners to learn to understand how the movement feels to them,” she says, rather than completely change how they run to one standardized form or another….
But she adds that the overarching message of the study is probably relevant for most runners. “You can optimize your gait naturally,” she says, “by becoming more conscious of your running movement and how it feels.” Your body, at least in the early stages of becoming a runner, can be a fine and knowledgeable coach.
The REI Expert Advice library includes a brief training primer, Running: Training Tips. Have you had a similar experience as the participants in the study?
Photos © 2012 REI (Danny McMillian)