I just re-posted the last photo (posture) so it embeds that incredible Mo Farah form.
Yeah man for sure, it’s extremely important. There are so many little pieces that add up and contribute to one’s running economy. These elites have such incredible posture. It’s more visible in something like a marathon, where even the top guys can start to fade at various portions of the race, usually around mile 20 or 22 etc. It doesn’t happen as much for shorter races (5k-10k) because these guys are just so strong that their posture doesn’t usually break down, it’s just that people can’t hang with the speed of the leaders at some point. For most new or novice runners, these shorter events are more similar to marathons for elites, but instead the break down happens at mile ~2 (~3.5k) for a 3.1 mile race (5k) for example, instead of mile 20. Which is incredible when you think about it. This is one reason why no matter the distances they race at, high level runners often utilize long runs (at least once a week), at a manageable pace, for all of the additional strength benefits that come with it, not just the cardiovascular benefits.
Also, I personally think there’s such a thing as “mental posture”. This is something I personally experience alot. I can lose my “mental posture” by looking at my watch (and realizing how slow I am), or seeing a clock during a race, etc. This is obviously just part of the mental game, but to me it seems to fit within the idea of posture.
- the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.
- a particular way of dealing with or considering something; an approach or attitude.
I find running to be EXTREMELY mental. One can easily break down entirely due to what is going on in their minds. So, one of the big differences between high level runners & the rest of the planet, they can really just stay focused on the objective and not “psyche themselves out etc”. So they hold themselves mentally, very strong.
Also for that guy you mentioned, it potentially sounds like he’s efficient early on, perhaps even more so as a direct result of his body composition + bodyweight, but he just lacks the postural strength endurance that would allow him to remain more efficient, and as that posture collapses, his pace tanks. So early on his lightness may help considerably, but is no match for postural collapse later on. Direct strength work in the form of weightlifting or calisthenics can help, but so to would maybe more running, though no idea how much he already runs or trains, but it’s just something you see often. It can also be eye opening, when you have a footpod, which tells you your stride frequency and stride length. It’s nice to pinpoint when you started to “sow down”, and see what may be the biggest contributor. You’ll often see both decrease, but one more so than the other. For me, stride frequency can drop slightly, and stride length can drop dramatically. I just don’t get the “pop” per stride that I do early on. IMHO, that’s related to how i’m built -> I want to go hard and get it done with, I don’t have much patience in a race. For example, I can’t say, “ok for this race i’m going to run at X pace”. Instead, my mindset is just go as hard as the fastest, for as long as possible, and see what happens. If i’m considerably faster than the rest, I still push it but not as much as I would if I had someone to race against. So I think that kind of mentality just drives me towards going hard early. I imagine years down the road, if i’m still healthy and running, it’ll still be the case BUT i’ll be able to maintain crazy paces for a decent amount of time, simply because my “running 1RM” will be so high, and paces relative to it will be easier.
One thing you hear about is runners, “running tall”. In the Mo Farah photo I posted, that’s a good example of it. In addition to incredible lactic thresholds, vo2 max, and stroke volume etc, these guys get the most out of their stride as a result of hundreds of thousands of miles run, and it’s effect on their posture & mechanics. That’s why I don’t like actually focusing on mechanics or form when I run, I just want the “skill”, using natural mechanics, to be acquired as a result of the volume.
This is actually a really good video, one of the best i’ve seen on form drills. It illustrates a few key difference between elites and novice/intermediates. Regardless of the proficiency of the instructor at the drills, or just his superior coordination in general, his ability to fully extend his knee (when appropriate) & the strength he has to control his limbs is very important. He’s often seen fully extending his knee - whether it’s upon landing or as he swings his leg, while his students do not. He often extends it upon landing, which helps him preload his gastrocs more and it gives him more bounce through his tendons. He also extends it upon swinging it forward, which is going to help him extend his other hip more forcefully. So both of those things working together, might give some the idea that he’s just more genetically bouncy than the students, which could be somewhat true, but his mechanics/posture is solid & it gives him more bounce, a much more efficient movement than that of his students. These are the small things most elites do well & it takes them to the next level.
So, even though I mentioned not focusing on form when i’m actually running, I do think drills like that are important, because over time they do provide a skill & strength stimulus. They are also just a great warmup, and can get the muscles firing/CNS woken up.
That last photo especially … He’s just relaxing, demonstrating a drill at very low velocity, and his leg is very locked.
If you watch the video, you’ll see the “overprotective” mechanisms kick in for pretty much all of the novice/intermediate runners. Their body doesn’t want them to experience even such a simple position, there’s tons of protective activation going on to make sure they don’t use more tendon and potentially stress their joints more as well. That’s some overanalysis on my part, but I see it alot in not just running, but also jumping.
One simple way to experience the difference is to play around with it during something at very low intensity, such as jump rope or just light hops by themselves. “Nearly locked” knee & relaxed dorsiflexion of the foot will give you more reflexive “bounce”. The more you stray away from that position and land with knee bend, you’ll notice the movement become more muscular, with more energy used, and requiring more effort to rebound.
That’s one important thing i’m trying to figure out with running, because I think these elites (especially Kenyan elites who generally run using barefoot mechanics, with shoes) use “more tendon” and novices use “more muscle”, so that’s just a simple generalization of the spectrum of running economy.
Awesome, thanks so much man!!
Sorry, enormous reply. Apologies. LMFAO.