The Everyman: I Run Like That?

How is your running form? A video analysis can tell you a lot. Photo:

A video analysis is a great tool for runners, writes Jason Devaney.

“Is that what I look like when I run? Yikes!”

Various forms of this could be heard in my local triathlon shop last weekend as runners of all shapes, sizes and ages watched themselves on the iPad that was resting next to a stack of bike helmets.

Nervous bits of laughter, awkward smiles and probably some embarrassed, flushed faces filled the room. The coach, a former Newton Running rep who specialized in teaching better running form, provided feedback to everyone—all 30 of us.

It was the end of a running form class that included doing drills and having Juda, the coach, take a video of everyone running across the parking lot. As we all ran past Juda and her iPad, we knew we were in for it.

Dry mouths and elevated heart rates due to anxiety walked into the shop following the hour-long session outside.

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One by one, Juda played everyone’s brief run past the camera—in slow motion—and provided a few moments of feedback for each. It’s amazing to see how us amateurs run after watching professional runners run sub-14-minute 5Ks, 2:05 marathons and everything in between. There were runners with decent running form in our group, while others learned they have a few things to work on. But we’re all a far cry from looking like Ryan Hall.

I was the last runner to go, so I had to wait half an hour for my moment to arrive.

The first thing I saw made my jaw drop.

“I’m a heel striker? I had no idea.”

It’s true. My right leg looked pretty good and I landed, for the most part, on my midfoot. But the left leg, which is constantly giving me problems, looked very different. My foot was dorsiflexed, meaning it was flexed up instead of relaxed. I landed square on my heel. And here I was, thinking I had better running form that. Nope, I’m a single-leg heel striker.

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I will say, however, that this wasn’t the most ideal situation in which to be videotaped. We only ran maybe 20 yards before the iPad captured our moments of glory. And, of course, we knew we were being recorded. So that might be why I was a bit tense with my left leg.

Still, I recommend that every runner undergo some form of video analysis. Whether you pay for a detailed video and subsequent breakdown of your stride, or simply have a friend record you using a phone or tablet, you can learn a lot from seeing yourself run.

Just don’t judge yourself too harshly.

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