Friday, September 23, 2011

Running Clinic with Keith Bateman

Today I was lucky enough to get along to a complimentary offering of one of Keith Bateman's running workshops at Centennial Park. I first heard of Keith at the beginning of the year on after he had just broken the M55+ 5000m world record. I also went along to a clinic held by Barefoot Inc in October last year (I thought it was this year!?) at which Keith was one of the coaches. Today I was joined by another runner who had just completed her first half-marathon the previous weekend and was a self-described beginner.

Running form is something that I have worked on for a few years now, first exposed to the POSE method when I was trying to get over some really bad ITB around 2007-09 I'd basically given up running any kind of distance but a combination of a solid physio and a more 'natural' running style eventually got me going again. After running in some big ass Asics with $400 orthotics and  not improving at all, eventually I ended up in Nike Free's and a mid-foot (ish) strike. What I'm saying is that I came to today with what I thought was a reasonable amount of knowledge about running form. Only problem was I hadn't analysed my own running form for a long time. From the wear pattern on my Adidas Adios I knew I was still hitting the heel a bit, but I haven't been too worried about it.

Before coaching (click to see animation I put together)

We began by being video'd. Firstly up a pretty steep hill, and then in the park (see above). The girl I was with was quite obviously a big heel striker and I think for Keith someone he could really make some massive changes for. As for myself I think Keith had to have a bit more of a closer look. Because everything moves so fast in real time, its difficult to tell whats going if its not obvious (hence the pictures). 

After a few run through's Keith picked up that I was just slightly getting my foot out in front of my centre and that I was 'folding' at the hips. This stuff about the hips really interested me, because I've been having pretty tight psoas/hip flexors and I'd say that's related. So two fairly small things, but that in fixing should improve. 

So after we determined what the issues were we went through some drills that would encourage good form. First up what Keith described in his follow up email as "kick foot out back, stand tall and tilt gently forward", hard to describe. Second we did some butt kicks and then moved into running. What I had to focus on was standing tall and 'picking' the foot up. This 'picking up' has always what I have found the most difficult aspect of this type of running - its what POSE refers to as 'the pull' - thats where the hamstring pulls the foot up, rather than it being driven up by the quads I guess. 

We then got the shoes off and did the same drills in the wet grass. It was really nice to feel the grass underfoot. Unfortunately here my running partner tore a calf muscle. I was watching her and she was really pointing her toes and landing on her forefoot. Right at the end it looked like she had trodden on a piece of glass, but turns out she heard a pop. A real shame for her as she was getting some damn good advice.

 More drills, really trying to get the foot up underneath me, but not too high! Really hard. I did a few more run throughs before getting the barefoot video done (see below).

After Coaching (click for animation I put together)

Overall, I feel like my form is reasonable. But whatever changes I can make to run faster I will attempt. I need to incorporate more drills into my training, and I need to do more barefoot practice. Keith recommended drills as part of the warm up and barefoot running as part of the cool down.

So whilst its not completely new info for me, it's really working on refinement. The only criticism is that the time really flew by. I'm thinking about doing one of the follow up groups later in the year. Certainly recommend it!

Note foot position of leading foot. Image on right is back underneath more,
less chance of it getting too far in front.

Foot is a tiny bit out in front in both. Trailing foot on right is a bit
closer in towards body and slightly higher.