I watched the annual grueling Vosseler Shield cross-country race over Mt Victoria, Wellington, last Saturday. It is interesting to watch cross-country for the first time in years. Other than the near total absence of youth within the races, what really struck me was the poor hill-climbing form of the majority of the runners - even the top runners - as they laboured up the long, steep slopes. Generally, there was little in the way of knee lift and the feet tended to collapse into the dirt. The calf muscles and ankle sinews had no bounce at all in them. Not by the 2nd lap anyway! This represents a significant waste of energy.
|Pekka Vasala doing hill-bounding drills|
The article here, by Nobby Hashizume of the Lydiard Foundation, is essential reading for all runners who are seeking to improve their running. Pay special attention to the drills of "Bounding" and "Springing". These drills are running exercises that strengthen the muscles that stabilise the body while running; they strengthen the feet and lower legs and train the sinews to absorb the impact energy during foot strike and then regenerate most of that energy as forward thrust during the push-off.
|Pekka Vasala vs Keino - Running drills in action!|
Have a look at this video for inspiration!
Of course, you will take note of the two Kiwi runners in the race (Sigh! Those were the Glory Days now long-gone!).
Pekka Vasala and the other great Finnish runners of that era were influenced by the Finnish National Athletics Coach at that time (None other than the great Arthur Lydiard!).
Sadly, it appears this essential set of drills and skills have been lost to most coaching repertoires. I think the instigator of this is the loss of the side-line coach who has been replaced by the remote coach who has replaced the stopwatch and practical demos with a set of pro-forma training schedules. I can not imagine teaching these training drills without that direct coach to athlete contact of day long gone.
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