Two of my Team Over The Top runners (Kristen Page and Sue Anderson) have been gradually shifting to barefoot running as part of their training regimen. As such, they are using my barefoot running techniques to help lock in the Squat-Scoot method of mid-foot, injury-free running. This is NOT an easy process – yet the ladies are doing exceptionally well. The toughest part of the transition is strengthening the feet to tolerate different surfaces whilst bracing the total core to land lighter and quieter.
To assist them in the process, I have them barefoot doing a few of the many hill drills in my portfolio. These are as follows:
- forward uphill knee lifts – the key is to lift the knee up to hip height and land lightly on the mid-foot under the hips. Quickly transition to the other leg and repeat. This helps activate the quad muscles as well as the lower abdominal chain. It also activates the gluteal muscles to keep the hips square, thus preventing runners’ knee
- forward uphill heels to butt – the key is to flick the heels up to the butt with virtually no knee lift. This overloads the hamstrings and forcefully activates the gluteal muscles, thus assisting in a quicker foot turnover (so important in the Squat-Scoot)
- forward crossover downhill – the key is to rapidly alternate right foot over left and left foot over right whilst maintaining a slight forward lean. This activates the hip abductors and adductors to improve balance and fatigue tolerance. It also helps to improve foot turnover efficiency
- 1-legged hopping uphill – the key is to land lightly on the mid-foot whilst leaning slightly uphill. We alternate every 10 hops with a minimal amount of air time. The hips MUST be kept square and the centre of gravity low to reap the full benefits. This activates the full pelvic girdle to ensure balanced, braced running with less fatigue
- 1-legged hopping downhill – the key is to brace more than normal and lean slightly forward, especially as the downhill gets steeper. Let gravity carry you BUT focus on landing light to cushion impact and maximize the energy return from the ground. We alternate feet as in #4, working toward doing 1 full hill rep on 1 leg only. This develops power, elasticity, muscle activation and balance between the legs – all critical to ensure safe, efficient, Squat-Scoot running
I may…or I may not…get Kristen and Sue running barefoot regularly. I DO know that they’ll continue with my barefoot running drills – AS SHOULD ALL OF YOU! It’s the best way to ensure injury-free, fast-paced running with less effort. Why the hell wouldn’t you at least TRY it barefoot?? Next week’s blog features a top Ivy League cross country and track runner who came to the coach for injury-prevention training. Make sure you click on and read…!!