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Dossier: Running training

Running training: vary hilly and flat runs

For more fun and to improve your performance, running coach Patrick Flückiger recommends varying your training and taking it easy for at least three-quarters of your training schedule.

Text: Clau Isenring

Anyone can jog - endurance, rather than technique, is the key. True or false?

True. Anyone who’s physically capable of running can do so. Unlike very technical sports such as tennis or swimming, running is the second most important natural pattern of movement after walking. It’s deeply rooted in us, and we learn to run as children without having to train our technique. Running has played a key role in our evolution. Research shows that going back at least 300,000 years our ancestors covered a distance of around 45 km a day on foot, running at least 15 m of this. It’s only relatively recently that we’ve started to have problems running as a result of moving less and sitting around too much.

Who could benefit from running training?

Although there’s no real right or wrong when it comes to running, there are movement patterns that pose a greater risk of injury. It depends on whether you want to improve your running style with the aim of preventing pain, or to run faster without expending more energy. In both casesit makes sense to consult a coach, but to change bad habits you have to be prepared to train hard and stick at it.

What are the most common mistakes made by people who’ve been jogging for years?

Over-striding, poor posture, not using the arms and tending to train too hard. Another common mistake is not lifting the knees high enough, which causes the feet to turn outwards.

What methods do you use to pinpoint errors and optimise movements?

I use standard movement tests and video analyses. However, if someone requests a video analysis, I always ask first whether they do regular exercises, such as ankle drills, kick backs or high knees, to improve their technique. In 99% of the cases, the answer is no. 

“However, if someone requests a video analysis, I always ask first whether they do regular exercises, such as ankle drills, kick backs or high knees, to improve their technique.”

In this case, I’ll show the runner some running technique drills that they should do for six months before going out for each run. Only after this does it make sense to do a video analysis, because by then either the runner’s technique has improved so much over the six months that they no longer need my assistance, or we both know that they have the motivation and discipline required to really work on their technique. And we can be sure that the time and money invested in dedicated coaching will pay off.