Orange County, California

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  • Greg Hodel

How might pulling the foot further in the air help you run faster?

Is there a possibility that pulling the foot further in the air before contacting the ground could be less efficient? If you try to pull the foot further backwards in the air before contacting the ground, it doesn’t seem like there is a risk of pulling the foot too far under the body. Even when you make an effort to pull the foot under the body, it doesn’t make it as far back as it feels. It seems like the foot has more of a tendency to land further in front of the body. This can occur if the glutes and hamstrings are not activated early, and also occurs due to fatigue. With this tendency to land early ahead of the hips, it seems safe to assume that there should always be an effort to pull the foot further in the air to counter fatigue and passive muscles. How might this help someone run faster?

1) Due to the longer rotation before ground contact, the foot can be moving backward faster at ground contact allowing a higher top running speed.

2) Because the foot lands further back, it travels a shorter distance on the ground and allows for a faster recovery. When the foot lands ahead of the body the leg is slowed down by the the longer distance travelled on the ground relative to the body.

3) When the foot lands under the body, the position of the leg allows for a stronger and faster horizontal component of force compared to landing forward and waiting for the leg to be in a more powerful position to generate horizontal force.

4) Activating the glutes and hamstrings early increases the speed of the body system of both legs and both arms as compared to passive glutes and a slower lead leg. If one component of the system is slow, then the system is slower since all components depend on each other. If one component of the system is fast, then the system has the potential to be faster.

5) Pulling the foot further in the air facilitates the knees aligning when the foot contacts the ground, rather than contact occurring before the knee of the trail leg has rotated forward.