Over the past six years, I’ve experimented with and tweaked my running techniques. Most of the time, change has come incrementally. Sometimes, though, there have been significant breakthroughs.
Here are the three most important:
Running barefoot is the most significant thing I’ve done to change/improve my running, bar none.
My first barefoot run was in June of 2009. I’d been reading about barefoot running for a while, so decided that I’d give it a try. It felt better – much better – than I’d expected. So I just kept on going. My running changed completely because of that. I’m lighter, stronger, and quicker. Running barefoot means running with fewer injuries, so I’m able to train consistently. I feel whole and strong.
When footwear is a necessity (rough terrain, very long distances, or a combination of the two), I wear minimalist sandals. But I always get back to skin-to-ground as soon as I can.
This comes a very close second to being barefoot.
Long story short… If you adopt a LCHF (low carb, high fat) lifestyle, and become keto-adapted, you’ve got the fuel you need (i.e., fat) in your body, and you don’t need anything else. In fact, it’s better to run this way, as it results in steady energy levels, with no insulin spikes, no bonking, and no hitting the wall.
The human body doesn’t need carbs at all. I’m much better off without them.
Getting my cadence to the optimal turnover of 90 steps/minute (180 steps/minute if you count both feet) has made a huge difference in improving my running economy and enhancing my form. Barefoot running tends to have a higher cadence than when shod, so that’s been a help.
Once in a while, I use a metronome beat of 180 bpm on my iPod Shuffle to check my cadence and ensure that it’s where it should be.
My goal is to be able to hold a 180 bpm cadence over very long distances.
There’ll doubtless be more breakthroughs. I think they’ll come in the course of doing distances over 100K and times over 12 hours.