Even Pro Athletes Need Running Form Help
I’ve been fortunate to meet, train with and work with a number of professional runners and triathletes. One of the benefits of working for a running shoe brand is you get to work with athletes. The reason I moved to San Diego in the first place was to train with the best in the world of triathlon. For the most part they were all outstanding runners. Running form impovement was never a topic of discussion.
A year ago I was contacted by a coach who wanted me to work with his athlete. This guy was a beast of an athlete. An Olympian and Pro Cyclist turned triathlete. I didn’t know anything about him when I drove up to LA to meet him. One of the pure nicest guys I’ve ever met. A heart of gold and an engine that never stops. He was running 18 mile runs at sub 6min/mile and had some big goals for himself. His name is Cam Wurf.
I stood beside his coach as I was filming Cam do some basic movements. I was shocked. His form was the ugliest I had ever seen yet he was moving quite fast. I asked his coach how that was possible: All he said was, desire.
To describe it best it looked like Cam had a steal rod holding his upper back and head back as his hips were jutting forward because they were trying to run. I guess that’s what happens when a rower turns into a runner. We had some work to do.
The first thing we did in that first session is try to relax his stance. I had two dowels in my pocket and handed them to Cam. I asked him to go run the same amount. Instantly there was a response. It wasn’t even close to a runners look but his body changed dramatically. The idea is give the hands purpose and the body will follow. Don’t quote me on that.
I then gave Cam the same speech I give everyone. I started by asking him his drill routine in rowing and then moved on to his swim workouts. I tell him running is no different. Every good running coach makes his or her athletes start every run with warm up and drills. I taught him the drills and told him the same thing. Every run starts with 5 minutes easy jogging and drills. He looked at his coach and all his coach said was “Do what he said”.
We met again 3 weeks later and there was great improvement in his form. We talked about his upcoming races and I tried to temper his enthusiasm about his running goals. I said it would take time.
Cam went on to race a few times, changed coaches and I kind of lost touch with him.
Last weekend I saw that Cam was racing Ironman Sweden. I did some research and realized Cam was putting in some solid performances this year. A top 10 in South Africa with a 3:05 marathon. Then another top 10 in Switzerland and finally a 2nd place in Sweden. The pictures from Sweden show a completely different runner. He’s now running with a forward lean.
The thing is, when I met Cam he was already running fast. He could run 3:05 off the bike but the cost of doing so was great. There is a point where possibly the cost is too high and although you are running fast, you stop and start walking. That’s where he was. Now he’s running the entire way “comfortably”.
I’m fairly confident Cam has received more coaching/advice on his running. I’m not taking credit for this transformation. I will only say he was running like we envisioned last year and that’s a beautiful thing.
One thing for sure. Cam posted on Instagram that he’s now qualified for the Ironman World Championships. That is going to change the tactics for everyone else. Cam will be the best cyclist on the start line.
Photo Courtesy of Ironman