After recently acquiring a position as coach of a new gym in Ventura, my fellow coaches pushed books full of physical knowledge into my hands. As an avid reader, of course, I willingly accepted. One of my fellow coaches (a Boston Marathoner) was really surprised I had never heard of Kelly Starrett. After taking me through a few of Kelly’s standard movements, he asked, “How are you such a beast yet struggle with these movements?”. I asked myself the same question. Since then I’ve thrown myself into one of the main books and poured over youtube videos, podcasts, and immersed myself into his theory of running. Changing your running style is like any other lifestyle change, it takes time, patience, and self-love. However, I’ve seen the benefits of this change through easier training runs, successfully placing first in my age group in both local sprint triathlons, and just having a better overall awareness of my mind/body connection.
Kelly Starretts “Ready to Run” book is one I’ve already recommended to almost ALL my running friends. It’s a type of book I wish someone would have put in my hands 2-3 years ago when becoming a more serious runner. The main ideas of his 12 standards are
- To have a more improved performance
- Reduce the risk of injury
“The payoff from doing the work to achieve and maintain these standards is more than reducing your risk of injury, and more than putting a stop to wearing your joints. When you fix problems, and retrain your body to move well, you allow for greater performance-more power, more speed, and you’ll be able to hold it together”.
These standards are not the solution to all running problems but they certainly will help improve your running and possibly enhance the longevity of your running career.
What are the 12 Standards?
- Neutral Feet- Straight parallel feet
- Flat shoes- zero drop, ideally barefoot
- A supple thoracic spine-brace yourself, no hunching over
- An efficient squatting technique-deep squat, knees over toes, upright spine
- Hip flexion – be able to stand and raise one knee while upper body stays neutral
- Hip extension – sit as little as possible
- Ankle range of motion-always warm this up pre-run
- Warming up/cooling down-mobility work before running, compression, and bring the heart rate down
- Compression- wear compression socks to improve blood flow
- No hotspots- be aware and listen to your body, work on problem areas
- Hydration-2 – 3 liters of water a day
- Jumping and landing -jump rope= best friend
To keep this as short as possible, I’ll touch base on a few standards that have become most important in my running lifestyle
Pay attention to how you stand. Do you have one foot slightly turned out and one hand on your hip? Yep, that was me. Believe it or not, the lifestyle that you adopt during the day influences how you run. “By maintaining your feet in a neutral position, while standing, walking and running, you’re setting the state for an efficient movement, defined as the way your body was engineered to move.” Each step you take has a ripple effect from your foot, ankle, calves, knees, and back. For example, in a stance with your feet turned out “duck stance” the arches in your feet collapse, the ankles cave inward, and the knees follow. Think about the number of steps you’re taking per mile, while running, and the sheer force you’re exerting on the soft tissue surrounding these joints. This standard can become habit just by being mindful of how you stand. Do little checks during the day. Are you standing with your feet parallel while waiting for the elevator? How about when you’re talking to someone, how are you standing? Throughout the first month of being more mindful of my stance I’ve felt a new strength in my legs and I’m more aware of how I even carry my upper body while sitting or standing.
Ankle Range of Motion
It’s weird, right? As runners, we rarely think of our ankles being vital to our running life. I always had knee pain and attributed it to weak knees. Of course, it was a whole host of problematic areas that expressed itself there, however my ankles were a major culprit. When we run, each step we take is expressed by a pull and breaking system in our foot by pointing and flexing our toe. Are you able to go up to a wall with your foot flat on the wall as well as your chest? I’d bet not, I know I still can’t. That tightness you feel in the back of your ankle is a stiff heel chord, the Achilles tendon. A spring like chord that attaches your feel and arches to the lower half of your leg bones. Believe it or not this tendon is so strong “you can use it to suspend a Ford Fiesta”. Pretty crazy. Here is a great website to give you an idea of how to relieve that tension and start adding better mobilization to that area. https://www.allthingsgym.com/basic-ankle-mobility-exercises-recap/
This was a big lifestyle change for me. I now carry around a 32-ounce hydro flask and aim to refill it at least twice a day, as well as a 16oz bottle of a protein shake, and 16 ounces of coffee. I’ve noticed an enormous difference in my skin. Various tissues and nerves rely on water to slide around each other and around our joints. I was experiencing some bad IT band pain. My sports chiropractor (Dr. Romeo) explained to me that muscles have tissue between them. They weren’t sliding but more so sticking to each other, like a dryer sheet does to a towel. Proper hydration prevents this along with movement and mobility. “The average human loses nearly 3 liters of water a day to breathing, perspiration, and peeing. Add running to the equation and the numbers go up.” So, drink up.
Running is a much more complicated sport than we give credit to. However, It’s extremely rewarding and has changed my life for the better. I hope this has fueled your passion even more and helps you dive even deeper along your own running path.
By: Lori Sharp