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One of the first suggestions when looking at improving a running pace is to examine your technique. However, I prefer to run alone and if I didn't I don't know any experienced runners.

I most commonly run 5 or 10km runs during the week, with a longer run over the weekend. I've been using minimalist shoes for several months and feel like I have adapted to a mid-foot strike. I'm looking at bringing my pace down from 5:30 min/km to closer to 5:00 min/km for a marathon next year.

Does anyone have a suggestion for how I can self-assess my running technique to identify flaws?

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2 Answers

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  • Treadmill Video - Can be done on your own.

    Although imperfect, if you have access to a treadmill, you can set up your video camera and film your running form from the side, the back and the front if the treadmill doesn't block the view. I also think it helps to do both side views because there can be left -right differences. If you can hook your camera up to a monitor where you can watch as you run, you can try different techniques to see and feel the difference simultaneously. This method is also helpful to monitor your form at different speeds. You may need to repeat at different camera angles if you can't get a whole body shot at once.

  • Outdoor Video - Need a friend or coach.

    For outdoor running, find a friend to man the camera and a track for level running. Here is a nice article on the different shots to take to include the arm swing, knee positioning and footstrike. Then it gives some tips on analyzing the video, some common problems and corrections (over-rotation, overstriding etc.)

  • Professional Analysis

    Alternatively, you can have a professional perform a running analysis video and go over it with you. Depending on where you live and how detailed you want to get, you can go to a running center, or a running or movement lab. Just make sure that you see the whole body for full assessment of your form.

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A technique that has proven useful to me is to run barefoot on pavement and gravel. The roughness of the surface maximizes the sensory input to your feet, and the hardness of the surface calls attention to any excessive impacts or inefficiencies further up the foot/leg/knee/hip joints. I often run the first mile or two of a workout barefoot on pavement as a way to maintain a "muscle memory" of good form.

You can start by standing on the pavement or gravel, getting a feel for what the surface feels like "at rest", and then walking in place for a few steps, then bouncing and jogging in place, and then begin moving forward. As you transition from standing to moving in place to running, pay attention to how the surface feels on the soles of your feet, how your feet are landing and lifting, how your muscles and joints feel. I've found that even very small adjustments in foot placement, hip movement, knee bend, cadenece, etc., are can be measured by watching for changes in the level of comfort or pain felt on these sorts of surfaces.

But this is a rather subjective technique that I think is only useful in conjunction with learning about good form from other sources, etc. Thus I would be very interested in seeing a more thorough answer than this that describes some more objective techniques to self-assess running form.

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