What do shin splints and a bad carburetor have in common? Both of them will keep you from getting to work until they’re repaired. For run commuters, a small injury can keep you off the road for a week or more.
We have to remember we’re not out running a race – we’re running to or from work, so there is no use in sprinting to the point of exhaustion (and we’re running with backpacks for goshsakes). In addition, when you look at footfall of runners in general, a majority of us are heel strikers…
Which leads us to a great article from No Meat Athlete, called The Simple Way to Injury-Proof Your Stride (For Good!) that offers an excellent and easy technique that I think is very applicable to us as run commuters.
It’s simple: three steps per second (or 180 per minute) while running.
When you turn your legs over at this rate, you:
- Are forced to take shorter, lighter strides
- Keep your feet underneath you, rather than way out in front
- Strike the ground with your midfoot, rather than your heel
- Spend more time in the air and less time “braking” on the ground
All these factors add up to two big things: Greater efficiency, and dramatically reduced risk of injury.
One thing I’ve personally noticed about running faster with a longer stride length is that your pack tends to move around a lot more (not to mention you really feel the weight) than if you just take it a little slower. I’m also a firm believer in a feet-underneath-you, midfoot-strike running style, so the appeal of a simple change in cadence in order to correct most issues is awesome.
Try it out and see how it works for you. We would love to hear the results!