Relax Your Feet and Other Tips to Achieve Ideal Running Position
Written by Nuno Costa
Most CrossFit athletes have a love/hate relationship with running. They love that we don’t do it that often and they hate it when it comes up. It’s a little known fact the most popular workout on CrossFit.com is 5k Run – my guess it’s also the most skipped workout as well.
I coached the CrossFit Endurance seminars for five years and I traveled all over the world teaching people how to run. The MOST IMPORTANT concept to understand when it comes to running is the “ideal position”. Make sure you read the blog post on Efficient Running so you can go through what this position is emphasizing.
To start, I would suggest being in this position for 30 seconds at a time, but make sure someone is checking your positioning so that it looks like the picture above. Do this several times until you get comfortable in this position.
Common Fault – Late Pull
The most common mistake we see is the heel being too far behind the hip joint, which means the athlete is generally late at pulling the foot off the ground and will rely on their hip flexors to get back to this ideal position. This is why a lot of runners suffer from extremely tight hips.
Common Fault – Pushing Off
We can also see the opposite happening, with the knee driving too far forward and now the ankle being slight in front of the hip joint and once again out of position. You will see this more when an athlete pushes off the ground and is focusing on driving his knees forward, which is not how we want people to learn to run.
Common Fault – Looking Up or Down
Another very common mistake that you will see with runners is when the head is out of position with the chin either pointed up or down; either of these is not where we want you to be. We want a neutral head position, which means your gaze should be forward. Generally if an athlete is looking down they are thinking too much about what they are doing, and if they are looking up most of the time they are straining their neck and could be fatiguing and in a compromised position.
Focus Point – Midline Engagement
There’s a couple of other things to look for as well; you want to make sure you are keeping your midline stable and engaged while you are running. It’s not the same as bracing for a 1RM Deadlift, but if your core is not active while running you are more likely to rotate side to side while swinging your arms across your body, which once again can put you out of your ideal position and causing you to work harder than necessary.
Focus Point – Relax your Feet
Your feet ought to be in a relaxed position; that way, when they come down on the ground your muscles are able to retain elasticity and you will be able to stay injury free. When you push off the ground or when your foot goes into plantar flexion you are going to be reaching for the ground and this when we see common injuries to running such as shin splints, calf and achilles strains so be sure to relax your feet.
Treat running like any other skill you’ve learned in CrossFit – you get better by practice. Start with ideal positioning, making sure your head is in alignment with your shoulders, hips and heels. Make sure you are relaxed when you are running because if you aren’t your body is going to know and you are more likely to get injured if you are tense when you’re running.
Is running a weakness of yours? Then check out the Invictus Endurance Program!
The Invictus Endurance Program offers a well thought out training program designed specifically to build your engine and help you develop your speed, stamina and endurance for the sport of CrossFit. We’ve seen running tested at every CrossFit Games, and for the last two years it has been tested at Regionals. Running is here to stay in the sport of fitness. Our running program will improve your overall aerobic capacity and help you build a better engine. The program will have different priorities based on the competition schedule throughout the year.
If you know running is a weakness and you generally struggle with longer workouts, you will see great gains from adding this to your weekly training.