A week or so ago, one of my readers asked me if there was a simple technical instruction that would reasonably quickly and effectively help me run better, and I was thinking about it and came to the conclusion that probably the most widespread technical defect is in a premature unfolding of the free leg knee.
Good runners tend to differ as much as possible from the unfolding of the free leg, while runners with deficient techniques or those in poor shape tend to extend the knee of the free leg prematurely, as if they wanted to land as soon as possible in a similar way to what we do when we stumble over something (or take a trip) and we extend the leg forward and overtake the foot to land in such a way as to avoid falling on our faces. This poor running mode is called pendulum running, others talk about later cycle. In reality, these names are determined more by the symptom than the cause.
Let’s see the next two photos:
The first is Herb Elliot, 1500 champion of the Rome Olympic Games, running at a pace of around 57″ to 400. The one in the second picture is me in an indoor race, 800 at a rate of 1′ the 400 meters. It can be seen that in both photos we find ourselves in the last moments of propulsion in the instant that the heel of the free leg passes the supporting leg. Observe Herb Elliot’s knee flexion and the angle of his tibia to the ground, while in the frame that I see, the tibia points more to the ground.
Naturally not everything is a technical matter. Elliott’s limbs are lighter than mine, he has a better physical condition, and neither the deployment of my leg is extremely premature nor exaggerated, but it is far from that of the good runners. In most amateur runners the free leg deployment is even more premature and exaggerated than mine.
This is an aspect to which attention can be paid, especially in cases where the free leg deployment is excessively pendulum. Adequate correction exercises to improve this facet would be running over fences with one that reaches half the height of the tibia and separates between them around one and a half to two meters, depending on the height and power of the runner. The landing should be made with the heel a few centimeters in front of the fence and attack as far away from it as possible. If the attack (takeoff) takes place very close to the fence and landing well ahead of it, the vice of prematurely unfolding the free leg is perpetuated. The exercise described is very typical and I think it should be emphasized and emphasized for runners who run with the technical defect described very pronounced.
For an example of premature and exaggerated unfolding, see the corridor in the backward position in the following picture, where you can see the low knee flexion as a result of premature unfolding of the knee once the heel of the free leg overtakes the supporting leg.
In addition, a premature unfolding of the free leg will encourage the runner to hit the heel and force him to run more frequently, leading to greater fatigue at a certain pace.