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The Triathlete Blueprint Newsletter #44-Run Smarter, Not Harder: Quick Wins for Effortless Speed

Updated: 5 days ago

Read time: 3min.

By Coach Yan Busset

Mastering the Art of Effortless Running

During my years as a competitor, I had the incredible opportunity and privilege to be coached by one of the best, if not the best running coaches in France. His name was Bernard Faure, a former French marathon champion. Learning from him enriched me both personally and professionally in the realms of coaching and running techniques.

Bernard was a visionary in many aspects of running, especially in advocating a quality vs. volume approach. He introduced the "Lignes Droites" or strides technique, which many coaches use today, often without recognizing its origin. By reducing intervals for endurance runners of very short segments of 50-80 meters, he allowed runners to achieve volume without compromise on the running form. Bernard extended his concept to brick training in collaborations with elite triathletes.

His approach and philosophy not only shaped my physical capabilities but also instilled a deeper understanding of the sport in me. His teachings have been a significant source of inspiration in my journey toward becoming a coach.

However, Bernard was only indirectly responsible for one of the concepts in running that I apply to my coaching method today. It was during one of his training camps that I met André, one of his trainees, who had a really interesting backstory. An ergonomist engineer by profession, André was deeply involved in human biomechanics and the adaptation of working environments to human needs.

Beyond his professional expertise, he had a profound passion for learning, especially in how biomechanics could be applied to running. His knowledge in both fields made him an exceptionally interesting individual. André shared his unique perspective on running technique and economy, highlighting a concept that resonated with me for years: running as a controlled fall, leveraging gravity to make running more effortless.

At first, this idea of running to avoid falling forward seemed simplistic, but upon deeper reflection, it unveiled profound insights into efficient movement. This principle stuck with me, revealing that running could be made effortless by aligning with nature's forces rather than resisting them. 

Three Main Points for Effortless Running

To run more effortlessly, there are three key principles that I want to share with you that apply across all running paces and levels. These principles are designed to help you leverage your natural movements and the forces around you, such as gravity, to your advantage:

  • Using Gravity in Your Favor: Inspired by André's teachings, this principle is simple yet profound. Actionable Tip: Start by standing upright, then lean slowly and gently forward from your ankles (not from your torso) until you feel the urge to step forward to catch yourself. This drill sets the right posture and engages the correct muscles, teaching you to use gravity as a natural force to move forward.

  • Reducing Friction: Avoid Braking Forces: To run more efficiently, it's crucial to eliminate braking forces, commonly caused by overstriding. Overstriding occurs when a runner's foot lands too far in front of their body, creating a braking effect and increasing impact. This not only wastes energy but also increases the risk of muscle fatigue and injury. Actionable Tip: Practice running closer to the front edge on a treadmill to prevent overstriding. This encourages shorter, more controlled strides, increasing your cadence and reducing the impact of long steps. This technique promotes a more efficient, injury-free running form by ensuring that your entire body absorbs the impact, not just your knees or hips.

  • Leveraging Your Arm Swing: The arm swing is often underestimated in its role in running technique. It helps set the tempo, balance your posture, and contributes to effortless running by creating a counter force that lifts the pressure off each stride. Actionable Tip: A drill to master your arm swing involves standing still and swinging your arms very rapidly as if sprinting. This will develop your motor skills and also serve as a good pre-run warm-up. You may look funny, resembling a mime pretending to run, but the benefits are worth it.

The lessons from André, coupled with these practical, actionable tips, offer immediate advice for running smarter, not harder. By embracing these principles, your runs will become more enjoyable, potentially increasing your speed and ensuring an injury-free experience. This, in turn, creates a greater opportunity for consistency in training.


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