Despite strong winds, flying branches, and even a few snowflakes… our Train2Run program started last night. With our emphasis on technique, a post detailing what we are working to accomplish during the duration of the training program (which runs April-August) will be valuable for both those in the program, and those wondering what a program “training runners without running” is all about.

The Youtube video titled “Gliders vs Gazelles” applies to all runners, and not as the title suggest just for triathletes preparing for iron-distance triathlons. The video provides a starting point for a discussion on running technique as it outlines two basic forms of running technique:

‘Gliders’ – running with a shorter stride length, while using a higher cadence to obtain speed, and

‘Gazelles’ – running with a slightly lower cadence, while using a longer stride length to obtain speed.

Again, these two forms are a great starting point, but the video stops short of what I believe the true goal of optimal running technique: a blend of both techniques.

I do not agree that optimal running technique for any runner comes down to a decision of one style versus the other (i.e. Glider vs Gazelle). The key point of the video is that it does break down these two styles into distinct attributes, allowing us to identify the specific skills which need to be trained before an athlete attempts to unify them into these running styles, and then their own style.

There is loads of science to sport, but today it seems we have lost the appreciation and the awareness that there is as much artistry and opportunity for creativity in athletics as there are scientific principles. No two athletes in any sport execute sport specific technique identically… the best of the best take the principles of movement (i.e. laws of physics), learn the principles of the technique specific to a sport, and then create their own personal style of movement which reflects and respects their individuality. No two athletes have the exact same bodies, so why would one technique be perfectly suited to all athletes?  There isn’t. What aspiring athletes do need to remember is that they need to learn all the rules and perfect application and execution of all the rules before starting trying to write their own.

So what does optimal running technique look like?  Voila…

This Youtube video of Mo Farah (United Kingdom) – the only athlete to win both the 5,000m and the 10,000m events at the Olympics (2012 London and 2016 Rio), and an athlete who is equally competitive at distances from the 1,500 all the way up to the marathon – provides a slo-mo perspective of his form.

If you watch closely, very closely, you should be able to pick out elements from both the Glider and the Gazelle styles of running in Farah’s technique.

Last night in our first Train2Run session we started with the basics, right from the beginning… with foot placement and with a drill called “Fast Feet”.  By posting these gifs there are two goals: (a) for TOETT athletes the opportunity is to study one of the drills that we started to work on last night, a drill that we will definitely be turning back to for the next few weeks. I encourage all to practice. Practice at first may not be perfect, that’s fine… your brain needs to start somewhere in mapping and coding the new motor programs it has to write for joints which have likely have not moved as such, or have not been coordinated in such patterns, and (b) for athletes interested in the Train2Run program but unsure of what is the point in a program that isn’t spending time from the get-go driving athletes to intervals on a track, immediately pushing to run harder and harder… its to point out that without technique, there is only one option for [all] sport: it becomes harder and harder, eventually so hard that you injure you, you make yourself ill as a result of how hard you push your body systems trying to go harder, or it will cause you to quit sport concluding that its too hard, what’s the point… how can it be fun when its always hard?

Training is not supposed to be hard, its supposed to be fun, its supposed to be about learning how to move with ease, with fluidity, moving in new patterns that result in greater efficiency hence greater speed and endurance. If you put the cart (speed & endurance) before the horse (technique training) you will not come close to experiencing the true joy of sport, nor will you ever experience your potential in the sport.

I encourage you to play… try out the drill. Can you do it? Can you execute this simple drill that works on proper foot placement in the landing, proper weight transfer, proper coordination of the arms, correct trunk and head posture, and develops the proper drive source for a runners stride?  If you are having difficulty with this drill, then what will you accomplish by heading out and just running mindless miles? Not much. Sorry, not true… you will accomplish something, you will accomplish feeling sore, perhaps even pain, and then you will have to decide whether or not to go out and subject your body to another run, and to the inevitable soreness, aches and pains that are sure to come after.

There is another way to train… training technique.  I promise that in time it will open you up to the true value and meaning of sport, and it will open you up to you.

If interested, there is a Part 2 to the Glider vs Gazelle video at this link: