Photo Credit Photo: Jean Sorensen
Alison Tai is one of the toughest athletes ever to make a world championship podium. Period.
She was training on her bicycle in 2006 when she was hit by a truck at “highway speed,” suffering broken bones to her back, pelvis and arm.
Fast forward 10 years and you’ll find her on the podium, winning silver at the World Champion Tough Mudder Championships, which is a gueling obstacle course and torturous way to make a living.
She found success despite having a lengthy road to recovery in front of her, eventually choosing to embrace the toughest sport she could find because well, why not?
It was as if she was saying it’ll take a lot more than that to keep her down.
These days, Alison, who is a certified running and fitness coach, is also a mother of two, focusing professionally on helping others to attain their dreams.
In our Q & A she talks about the importance of proper running form and how it can extend energy levels while improving results.
Q: For those who want to begin running, why is proper form so important?
A: Cultivating good running form is incredibly important and very often overlooked.
You probably heard that runners take about 180 steps per minute. If you’re even just doing a 30 minute easy run that’s over 5,000 steps.
If you can mitigate impact and maximize efficiency for each one of those steps… you’re going to be a better runner and far less apt to become injured.
Q: What are some techniques to incorporate?
A: You want to stay tall and loose in your body with a natural forward lean from the ankles (not from the hips).
Strides should be light and quick and your feet should land under your hip. Arms should drive forward and back from the shoulders from “nips to hips” with about a 90 degree elbow bend.
Q: How should runners analyze their running form?
A: You can steal quick glances at the mirror if you’re running on a treadmill… although it’s far better to have a friend video you running.
Get a number of angles: in front, side and behind and make sure to get your whole body in the video.
You can learn a lot from analyzing your stride! Even make this a date with your best running friend(s) and you can go through the taping and analysis together.
Q: What are some of the common mistakes novice runners make?
A: Novice runners often take long slow steps and reach ahead of their body with their feet. Most of us ran as children but soon found walking took over the foot-travel in our lives.
When people get back to running they often have a “walking-stride-with-a-moment-of-suspension” rather than a true running motion.
This boundy walk-stride creates a ton of impact on the body and often sidelines novice runners with impact injuries that could have been avoided if they worked on running technique early on in their running journeys.
Q: What other form tips would you suggest for runners from shorter distances to marathon?
A: I feel like the same principles of good running mechanics apply across the board for all long distance runners.
Too often marathon runners forgo the high end run efforts in favour of sloggy long slow miles. I like to see marathon and ultra marathon runners incorporate pickups and strides into runs at least once or twice a week.
You won’t get a ton of additional load from the efforts, but they’ll help you develop your running mechanics which will trickle down into your long and slower paces.
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