I'm a new, long-distance runner, and a more experienced runner told me that I "bounce" too much when I run. I switched from sprinting to long distance, so does that have anything to do with my current form? How can I fix this?
Kevin Nealon as Gary Potter in “Happy Gilmore” said "It’s like a carousel. You pay the quarter, you get on the horse, it goes up and down and around." And while that's great for life and carousels, major vertical oscillations in your stride are not good! Higher rate of impact, less efficient stride, more time spent on the ground, more time in the air (obviously) and an overall slower time are some of the impediments associated with extreme runner bounce.
There could be several reasons why your stride has some bounce. Maybe your stride is too long, slowing down your cadence. Coming from a sprint you could be driving too much, which is causing greater hang-time between strides at slower speeds (I know for me the slower I run the more I bounce). Or maybe that's just how your body works the best!
If slower cadence is your issue then there are apps (Cadence Trainer is one I found) that will help you run at a better rhythm "oh e ohhh." SIDE NOTE: I'm listening to Gloria Estefan's “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” right now. Ideally you want to be around 180 steps per minute. That cadence helps you take shorter, quicker strides reducing ground and airtime. It'll feel weird at first but with an app you will get an audio cue when to take a step. This will also cut down on the amount of drive you're able to push with each step.
Coaching sprinters and some faster middle-distance runners, we run a lot of banana hurdles to work on bringing their feet up and down quickly to quicken their cadence. This helped a lot of my 400-meter runners who had longer, loping strides that caused them to stay in the air too long on the backstretch while staying on the ground too long up the home stretch. We'd place them about 3 feet away from each other and practice running through them. If your cadence is faster you get right through no problem. But if your cadence is too slow, you'll knock them over. We would also use a speed ladder, running with two feet in each box a few times before running one foot in each box. Both are great especially if you're coming from a sprinter background.
Also check out our Milestone Pod, which we carry at both stores. It will tell you a lot of great running metrics including your cadence ($25 or $15 for No Boundaries members).
- Coach Phil