Home Schooling for Runners

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By Sonya Summersgill

So unfortunately my workshop was cancelled, for very good reasons, but one of the more interesting points I was going to cover was how to interpret your running photographs. I don’t pretend to be an expert running coach, I do hold the Leadership in Running qualification, but I do have bio mechanical training as a sports massage therapist, a personal trainer and I have a masters degree in movement based flexibility.

Running photos are a great source of knowledge about you, particularly if they were taken when you weren’t posing for it! So now try and find a front view photo of yourself in full flow.

Take a straight edge, credit card is great for this, and run it vertically from mid ankle to, mid knee, to hip to shoulder on each side of your photo. Can you do that or does the card move offline to achieve that? whats out of line? Your knee needs the foot to be directly under it or you will get knee pain. Now take your card and run it horizontally across your shoulders (are you rolling forward, dipping down to one side?), do the same with the hips and the knees.

Attached are some photos to help you. The first is what good running posture looks like. The second is a lady completing a marathon. Look at her knees – they have collapsed in, she has hip rotation and her foot stroke is flat. This is a lady who will have sore knees every time she runs and that in turn will likely lead to hip/ lower back pain. Now look at the man at the back of that photo. He has all sorts of pains going on there and is a typical tall runner, trying to run smaller. He has excessive forward lean, he is heel striking with a locked leg (ouch!) and I suspect he has constant knee or hip issues or both.

So what is the benefit of doing this?

Well I did it for myself a year or so ago, as I do suffer from knee pain after long miles. Photo one is me in my first ever run in strider colours. There is so much wrong with that photo I could go for on days, lol, but the two big issues are my core has collapsed and my knees have collapsed in, which means I am putting all my weight through my knee ligaments (ouch!). So once I assessed that I changed it. For the last year I have slowly and steadily built up my core strength and worked on ONE big change. That has been to make myself run taller. I hope you can see the big difference with photo 2! I am now spending the next few months working on glutes and single leg squats, in particular, to help my knees stay straighter.

The reason I am posting this now is there is no better time to help yourself. You aren’t running with anyone, you aren’t running for a PB. You can now take things back to basics and change what it is that is either hurting you now or will hurt you in the future.

But this comes with a warning – Rome wasn’t built in a day! Your body needs time to make significant adaptations or something else that wasn’t loaded before starts to complain! So pick one major thing to change and work on it for a few months and then once you have it right move on to the next thing.

I’m happy to help but don’t want to be innundated with over 200 photos, lol! I am happy to comment once you have done your own analysis, if you are happy to share so that we all get better at this skill.

Let me know how it goes. Sonya x

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