TechniJogging - the Foundation of Correct Running
It is common knowledge that walking and running are distinguished by the fact that the former has a 'double support phase' which means one foot is always in contact with the ground while the latter has a 'flight phase' during the movement cycle which means there is a period where both feet are off the ground.
It is probably less commonly known that until the early 1960s that no concept existed to link walking and running and the average person either walked or ran. I say 'concept' advisedly because covering long distances mixing walking and running would have been used by modern man's hunting ancestors and can still be observed in peoples such as the Mexico's legendary long distance running Tarahumara Indians and on into the modern Ultra Running boom.
Around the early 1970's the term "jogging" slowly became popularised to describe slow or ultra slow running.
The term 'jog' had a much longer history as Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jogging notes it was used by Edward Shakespeare in the "Taming of the Shrew" and notes Richard Jefferies, an English Naturalist, wrote of "joggers" describing them as quickly moving people who brushed others aside as they passed. In other words early joggers were seen as fast walkers rather than slow runners!
That said 'jogging' as we know it today probably began almost simultaneously in post World War II Europe with the German doctor/coach, Dr Ernst Van Aaken, and in New Zealand with perhaps the greatest coach of all time, Arthur Lydiard. Both preached the health benefits of extensive periods of low heart rate activity while at the same time coaching some of their countries finest middle and long distance runners using the same approach. The difference was that Van Aaken's method mixed both walking and running whereas Lydiard focussed on jogging.
In fact Garth Gilmour, the author of all Lydiard's books as well as the books of his athletes, recalls attending a 'Jog with Lydiard' session in 1961 and Wikipedia notes 'the idea of jogging as an organised activity was mooted in a sports page article in the New Zealand Herald in February 1962, which told of a group of former athletes and fitness enthusiasts who would meet once a week to run for "fitness and sociability". Since they would be jogging, the newspaper suggested that the club "may be called the Auckland Joggers Club"—which is thought to be the first use of the noun "jogger".' In the mid 1960's the title of Lydiard's second book was adopted by the East German government when they established their "Run for Your Life" program.
Jogging as an activity was transported to the US by the University of Oregon Head Track & Field Coach Bill Bowerman who had spent considerable time with Lydiard during the early 1960's. During the late 1960's Bowerman wrote "Jogging" and established local jogging programs. These things, in combination with U of O's Track & Field success, led to Oregon being known as the running 'capital' of the the nation.
Finally it is widely considered that jogging really became of age in America following Frank Shorter's marathon victory at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Mass participation in major big city marathons started to grow dramatically, shorter 'fun' or city runs began to appear across the country, shoe companies became interested in the trend, running magazines appeared and 'pop' advice about jogging (and running) blossomed.
TechniJogging is a totally unique concept born out of my experiences with beginners, injured athletes and athletes undergoing rehabilitation. My definition of TechniJogging is running, technically correct, at walking pace (or around 50-60% average heart rate)
Jogging has regularly been described as running slower than 6 mph (10 minute per mile pace, 9.7 km/h, 6.2 min/km) whereas techniJogging is normally done at 7 minute km or 12 minute mile pace or slower or for faster at a pace 40% slower than their average best 10k race pace.
The difference therefore between TechniJogging and jogging or slow running is that it is should be considered as a technique workout rather than a conditioning workout - although it has a number of benefits relating to recovery and, due to the greater plyometric content, to calf muscle power.
Learning to techniJog is as simple as counting to five.
1. Stand tall - avoiding any tension in the torso, shoulders, forearms and hands while keeping the head in a neutral position.
2. Raise the hands to a position level with the sternum - avoiding tension in all of the above.
3. Jog lightly on the spot - avoiding raising the feet more than a few centimetres, lifting the heels and any tension as listed in 1. and 2. above.
4. Move into a relaxed jog by leaning forward slightly - maintaining the tall relaxed posture and allowing the arms to move in a relaxed manner.
This procedure should be rehearsed up to 100 times in the first week and after that regularly until
Over the years I have remained convinced the accumulated volume is the key to success in running – be it measured in kilometres, miles or time. Now however I believe it is actually the number of steps a person takes rather than accumulated time or distance. After all a person is not training structurally while in the air between strides and it is well known the highly trained cardio-vascular and neuromuscular systems of elite swimmers and cyclists will not allow these people to run at even good club run level without extensive muscular-skeletal conditioning.
We have all heard the account of the African kids running to and from school and that the best of them also go home for lunch. Well in my 5 visits to Kenya totalling 15 weeks I have not seen more than a handful of kids running to school. Most walk and those running are usually late. This was also true of Australian, New Zealand and American kids when these countries dominated distance running.
If we consider most people walk with a stride length of ~80cm it means they record between 166 and 125 strides per 100m and 1660 and 1250 for a kilometre.
From a training perspective it means a coach could simply prescribe their athlete get a pedometer and complete a workout of say 5000 steps. If a beginner was told to walk or TECHNIJOG at around 9 minutes per kilometre or to run with correct technique at 8 minute kilometre (or 13 minute mile) pace they would walk or run about 125 steps per 100m or 1250 steps per kilometre. That would mean the person covers 4k or 2.5 mile. If the next stage were to increase the 5000 steps to a pace of 6 minutes per kilometre (about a 1 metre stride) the person would increase their distance to 5k or 3 mile. The same 5000 steps done at 4 minute per kilometre would mean the person is running 65 to 70 steps per 100m and therefore they would cover 7.1k to 8k or 4.4 to 5 mile.
Using steps has a number of advantages when working with beginners.
- It obliterates the distinction between walking, alternating walking & jogging and running.
- It means running with a shorter stride accumulates steps faster so cadence rather than time is the important thing.
- It ensures the any person who has been taught correct technique (see Library/Run at www.benson.com.au) maintains better posture during the workout.
- Slower running will mean less likelihood of injury during the development stages of an athlete’s career.
It also has advantages when working with track athletes who are moving from sprint or short middle distance to longer distances, for recreational 2 to 3 hour a week runners to say the half marathon or the marathon and for triathletes moving from the short or shorter race to the Half Ironman or Ironman.
Take the long run as an example. An elite male or female athlete running say a relaxed 2 hours at 4 minutes per kilometre pace would run 30 kilometre with a stride length of about 1.5m and therefore take about 20,000 steps. This means a person whose relaxed 2-hour pace is 6 minutes (ie, 20k) should aim to run as close to 20,000 steps as possible. This can be done if the person keeps their stride length to about 1 metre because it means they run 1000 steps every kilometre and 20,000 steps will equal 20 kilometres.
In this way the training values are equal.
It would also be possible for an athlete to accumulate even more steps if they shortened their stride to say 90 centimetres. Using a 90 cm step would mean running 22,220 steps in 2 hours. Naturally the distance would be less unless there was an increase in cadence. However if developing great muscular-skeletal strength was the goal – as it is those the types of athletes listed above – running 18 or 19 kilometre is not relevant.
This leads to the question of how to work out your cadence in relation to your running speed. For this it’s easier for me to use myself as an example.
First I walked 100m at a relaxed speed and the time was 65 seconds and I took 120 strides (83 cm) then I walked 100m at a steadier pace and the time was 55 seconds and I took 110 strides (90 cm). Then I run about 30 x 100m using a natural stride as determined by the time I was aiming to achieve for the 100m.
The average result were:
- 8 min/km pace (48 sec/100m) = 122 to 127 steps per 100m = ~1250 per km. Cadence ~155 steps/min
- 7 min/km pace (42 sec/100m) = 109 to 111 steps per 100m ~1100 per km. Cadence ~159 steps/min
- 6 min/km pace (36 sec/100m) = 98 to 102 steps per 100m ~1000 per km. Cadence ~163 steps/min
- 5 min/km pace (30 sec/100m) = 83 to 86 steps per 100m ~850 per km. Cadence ~167 steps/min
- 4 min/km pace (24 sec/100m) = 64 to 67 steps per 100m ~650 per km. Cadence ~171 steps/min
- 3 min/km pace (18 sec/100m) = 55 to 57 steps per 100m ~560 per km. Cadence ~180 steps/min
The event this step count method has most application is the marathon and the ironman marathon. In my case this told me that if my goal was to run 3:45 hours for a marathon or an IM 42.2k my pace would have to be ~5:20 minute kilometre and I would need to be capable of absorbing about 38,000 impacts. I would then slow my pace to 7 minutes per kilometre in a number of long (2:15 to 2:30 hour type runs), increase my cadence slightly and target a stride length of 80 centimetres because 2:30 hours at 7 minutes per kilometre would mean that while I only ran about 22 kilometre I would have taken about 26,400 steps. If I chose to run 3 hours like this I would run about 26k and accumulate over 30,000 steps.
By increasing the cadence the cardiovascular impact would be greater that a 7 minute per kilometre run would normally be and, more importantly I would be training more specifically for my event than running 18,000 to 22,000 steps faster because the marathon is rarely about cardiovascular failure and the IM 42.2k is always about muscular-skeletal failure.
Question: How far would I have had to run at 7 minutes per kilometre using a 90 cm stride to record 38,000 steps? How long would that take me? Would it be equivalent to a 4 hour or 45k Ultra Run?
So get a pedometer and go and experiment on yourself.
© Benson’s Run With The Best and Endurance Performance Systems 2006