Two Simple Training Exercises to Streamline Your Running Form

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Tue Jun 25th, 2013, 10 comments

Improving your running form can be simpler than you think. If you practice one or both of the following running form drills into your training plan for several runs you’ll find that a lot of your technique will fall into place. These simple exercises, when added to your ChiRunning® practice, can help build strength and awareness in your core while training you to relax your lower legs.

A training plan for improved running form

Add one or both of these exercises into your workout and throughout the day, whether you want to run a 5K or you’re training for a marathon.

1. Peg Leg: This exercise is best done walking. Use it as a warm up for a run; during the walking portion of your walk-run training plan; or whenever you’re just walking somewhere.

Walk as if you don’t have feet, as if your knees are what are directly in touch with the ground. Another image you could use is that you are walking on stilts. You should feel a set of muscles engage that you probably don’t feel while you are running. You’ll also probably notice your hips and hips flexors more than usual.

This drill helps engage your core, keeps your upper body forward, shortens your stride and helps you to completely relax your lower legs. All of these key components of good running form are contained in this simple exercise.

Walk using the Peg Leg image for a few minutes at a time, then run or walk while focusing on being aware of engaging the same muscles and a similar movement in the hips. Feel your posture while walking with Peg Legs, and maintain the same posture.

This is just a drill. It is not the way you want to run or walk all the time, but it helps inform your body of a more beneficial way to move.

2. Hold the Chi Ball:  This exercise can be practiced first while standing, then while ChiWalking® or ChiRunning® in small intervals. Practice in first or second gear when you are running (not a good idea for 3rd or 4th gear).

Begin by aligning your posture with shoulders, hips and ankles in a line. Then, curve your arms out in front of you, chest-high, as if you’re holding a big exercise ball. Notice how bringing your arms into this position brings your upper body slightly forward and engages your core muscles. Holding the Chi Ball puts your body into a perfect posture that is ideal for walking and running. Just hold the Chi ball for 5-10 seconds at a time. Then, try to hold onto the same posture feeling as you let your arms fall slowly to your sides. Finally, bend your arms to 90 degrees and resume the normal rearward ChiRunning and ChiWalking arm swing.

Throughout this exercise keep your shoulders relaxed and your core will engage even more. Allow your legs to relax as well. When you focus on holding the Chi ball, your legs will naturally relax and you’ll feel your body pulled forward by gravity. Try to memorize that sensation and duplicate it.

Do the Chi Ball Exercise for ten seconds every two minutes, until your body moves naturally and with good posture.

These exercises will work wonders to streamline your lower body movements. When you can engage your core while relaxing your legs, you’ll begin to feel a distinct sense of ease in your movement. This sense of ease should be a prerequisite in all training programs for half marathons and marathons.
 

Tags

  • marathon training,
  • running technique,
  • half marathon training,
  • training plan

10 CommentsLeave a comment below

Great tips would like to see a video for peg leg, can’t quite picture how you do it?

Terry Griffey Jun 26th, 2013 09:16pm

The Chi Ball exercise is great! Transitioning out of that form into my normal running form revealed some balance issues I’ve been struggling with.  Great info!

Jeff Carnivale Jun 27th, 2013 12:55pm

The peg leg exercise requires some good body-sensing. Your lower legs will be super relaxed and the movement will come from your core, the pelvis must rotate for you to move. Although you will be moving forward from the torso, you will feel the movement more in the act of releasing to the back. You may even want to try this walking on your knees.

I find it hard to visualize too.  How do you relax your lower legs without bending knees?  I think I get the pelvis rotation part ok.

Jim,
It sounds like you may be focusing too much on the knees to the point of locking them. When you start with your good posture, bring your internal focus to the core muscles and let the knees soften(not bend). I think you will then get to feel the relaxation in the lower legs.

I have been trying to get more pelvic rotation and wanted to know are you suppose to have upper body “shoulders moving from side to side”?

caseycolahan Jul 26th, 2013 02:09pm

Hal,

Your upper body should be stable. All the rotation should be initiated from your T12/L1 vertebrae. You can find this spot by putting your fingers on your lowest rib and following that rib with your fingers back to your spine. A good visualization to keep your upper body stable is to think of your head and shoulders forming a pyramid or a tripod that doesn’t move. Just focus on keeping all the movement in your hips, and that should help a lot.

Can I do the peg leg exercise with a parrot on my shoulder?

I’d like to see a video of Peg Leg ..i can NOT picture this.

All kidding aside, I did the peg leg exercise (without the parrot on my shoulder)and I could feel the tightness in my core immediately. It’s a good exercise and I will do it often.
Karen, I don’t think a video would work for this one. Just drop your focus down to your knees and tell them to move, not your feet. Then walk. You should feel your core tighten up.

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