Four factors to consider when running and a success story

Running is confirming itself as one of the most practiced sports activities at all levels, both in playful and competitive form. Its logistical simplicity, the physiological and emotional benefits that can be obtained after a good walk, have been studied in depth by researchers from all over the world and there are numerous studies that confirm that this type of activity, if properly carried out in volume and intensity, improves the quality of life of those who practice it.
A perfect ride takes all factors into account, from an early age
Running is an athletic specialty consisting of several topical movements made over a given period, such as start and finish. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, running is a unique gesture, different from person to person, which should be studied in the different headlights at best to obtain the best results.

In this article we will analyze the elements to best train your running style and we will discover the story of a great Italian promise of running, Lamont Marcell Jacobs, young Italian sprinter and long distance runner:

Is there a better form of running? No, but you can always improve the technique
But what is the best way to run? Is there an ideal model to which we can refer? The answer is not easy at all.

Let's try to do a very simple experiment, let's observe the participants for example of a half marathon run (21.95 km). Soon we will realise that by observing the first of those to cross the line, the hundredth or the thousandth, everyone will run in a different form.

And yet, if running is so simple, why does everyone run in a different form? Is there an ideal technique for running? Is it also possible to modify and improve one's own running form? All these questions that sooner or later a runner, a coach, a sports doctor ask themselves.

A summary of running movement elements

A review published in 2007 by R.N. Van Gent, shows a high injury rate for all those runners with high weekly training volumes, with average percentages over 30% where the knee joint presents the greatest risks.

Is there an ideal technique for running? Can I change and improve my running mode? All these questions that sooner or later a runner, a coach, a sports doctor ask themselves.

The gesture of running in its simplicity requires the involvement of all the systems of our body, in this space we will try to observe more closely the musculoskeletal system and its biomechanical factors that can affect our running technique and consequently the effectiveness of our actions.

1. Temporal Space Factors

Those who have participated in some group of running training will have heard the coach say phrases such as increase the number of the steps or try to make it quicker with longer steps. The frequency of the step, what cyclists call cadence, the width of the stride, the time of contact of the foot to the ground are all space-time variables that if properly used can bring us a lot of information about our form of running.

2. Kinematic Factors

Kinematics is a part of mechanics that studies the movement of bodies without knowing the cause and the main quantities involved such as displacement, speed and acceleration. For an analysis of the stroke technique it can be useful to know, for example, the angles of the joints in the different phases of the stroke and thus build models on which to observe in detail what happens in different situations.

3. Kinetic Factors

Kinetics is a branch of mechanics that studies the forces that cause movement. In the case of running, for example, it studies the forces that support the weight of the body and all the reaction forces that interact between the ground, and the contact of the foot to the ground that allow us to stay in balance and move forward.
Running is an entirely natural element of human life

4. Anatomical Factors

It is a factor that is often overlooked but if we think about it enough, it is fundamental for a proper and complete observation of the race. Every structure of our body (bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, etc.) can have important differences between different subjects. Let's take for example an articular structure like that of the hip – which is very important for a runner because it is inserted into the major muscle groups involved in the gesture.
It is not only a matter of differences in length but of real differences in shape that determine important changes in the tendinous insertions and therefore lines of different forces.

Ritual gestures of Lamont Marcell Jacobs: the left leg on the starting block before the right one.

An initial analytical observation of each individual parameter and then an overview give us the opportunity to understand what our characteristics are and - above all - priorities when applying small adjustments or large changes.

A very recurrent data that is used to assess whether we are in front of a good runner or not is the observation of the angle of the ankle in dorsal flexion at the time of first contact of the foot to the ground to determine if and how much the person enters with the heel.

The sprinter's run and his training are different from the marathon runner's run
The understanding of biomechanical factors is useful to set up workouts in which the objectives are multiple without bonding only on the chronometer. Currently we have new technologies, without having to enter sophisticated university laboratories, which can provide us with real-time data on the main spatial, temporal and kinetic factors such as:

  • Step length
  • Strike length
  • Step frequency
  • Ground contact time
  • Aerial phase time
  • Propulsive phase time
  • Leg Stiffness
  • Power in watts
  • Vertical oscillation
A proper use of these variables and their interaction, during a medium and long period of time, allows us to create training sessions in which the objectives are not limited only to time and rhythm but affect more specific aspects of the technique with the aim of training compared to an ideal model, but especially compared to ourselves and our mechanical and physiological characteristics.
Start and finish: two topical moments of the race for both the long jumper and the sprinter
The story of runner Lamont Marcell Jacobs at just 24 years old is already a succession of records. We caught up with the young sprinter of the Italian national team, and his moments of concentration before starting from the blocks of departure.

The sprinter from the desert: the story of Lamont Marcell Jacobs

Words by Giacomo Iacomino / LUZ
He could have told us about the Chihuahua desert, the immense expanse of sand that surrounds the city where he was born, in Texas. He could have told us why the great Hollywood directors, from Sergio Leone to Quentin Tarantino, have chosen it in the past to shoot some of their masterpieces.
But in El Paso, Lamont Marcell Jacobs spent only the first two years of his life there. Therefore, he doesn't remember anything. Of the 30 seconds that precede his positioning on the starting blocks in the 100 metres, the same seconds that in May rewarded him in Savona with the 4th best Italian time ever (10'04), Lamont, sprinter and long jumper, remembers every single moment. For every sprinter that half minute feels the longest ever, the last moments before the countdown starts, the real one.
Lamont Marcell Jacobs is a talent of speed running and jumping
The one in which every athlete can only rely on the rituality and safety of their actions before the start. The left leg on the starting block before the right one. Hands on the pavement. The gaze is fixed on the straight line with five seconds to imagine it at full speed and then head down, eyes always open but facing the knees.

The discovery of the sprinter Marcell

One breath, out of your lungs as much air as you can and bang! How you get to the finish line, a lot will depend on the management of those thirty seconds: The purpose of any coach is to take you on the blocks without making you think of anything - explains Lamont - if there is something that jumps into your head, then you're not ready, and maybe you'll never be. Eighteen months after the last long jump of his career, in Belgrade, due to injury, the blue-blooded Texan felt ready for a new adventure: speed. And one of the very first things he had to learn was to be able to empty his mind in those thirty seconds.
Born in El Paso, today Lamont runs for the Yellow Flames
Because maybe that's where the race is decided: more than the first gun shot, more than the progression to the halfway point or the last ten meters. It's all about concentration. Everything starts in the head and from there, everything has to disappear: if you think too much, you are ruined.
In four months of training, Lamont Marcell Jacobs has reached the 4th Italian time of 100 meters: I've just started, I think I can improve. Marcell smiles, then he corrects himself: Actually I don't just think so, I'm sure I can.

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