If anyone can help you become a better runner, it’s Paul MacKinnon. With his Balanced Runner program, MacKinnon works with everyone from beginners to elite athletes such as Olympic medallist Galen Rupp and Australian distance champ Brett Robinson. Backed by a degree in sports science, MacKinnon takes a holistic approach, assessing how individual movements across the body can be improved to prevent injury, reduce fatigue and improve results.
A session with MacKinnon might start with him explaining a specific issue or just demonstrating running technique. He then breaks down motions and building better movement cues. “I watch you run and I give you a proprioceptive awareness of what you are currently doing and how it’s actually affecting you,” says MacKinnon. “I will make changes based on you, the individual, to unlock, improve, change, and then I’ll actually get you to feel the difference between the two.”
While it’s fair to say we’re not all going to hire a movement coach, MacKinnon’s technique demonstrates a careful, scientific approach to running. Whether you’re a first-day beginner or an old hand, here are a few of his tips you can implement to start improving your running.
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Dynamic vs static warm-ups
Warming up correctly prepares your body for what it’s about to do, so it’s worth getting your technique right. “Dynamic” warm-ups (which use movement to increase blood flow) are great, but some of the more complex techniques are best left for the pros. “The more elite [athletes] get, the more time they’ll put into warming up,” MacKinnon says. “A lot of that is dynamic, it’s about coordinative patterns of movements, high knees, A skips, B skips, little hops. It’s low and light and building into it rather than just stretching.”
For most of us, though, the best way to warm up for running is by running - just slower. “Start off with really easy running,” MacKinnon says. “A minute, two minutes. Slower than what you want to do your run at. Just nice and easy for the first five minutes and then off you go.”
Smart recovery and smarter sleep
The other side to warming up is recovery, and MacKinnon says it’s best to just do the simple things – drink water, eat enough food and rest. “Keeping hydrated during the day so that the next day you can go for a run [is important],” says MacKinnon. “Having enough fuel to make sure your muscles actually repair themselves for the next day. And sleep is huge. If you don’t get enough sleep, the incidents of injury skyrocket.”
Start small, get big
Instagram is loaded with Strava running results and beetroot-red faces boasting a new personal best. Tune out the noise if you can, because getting competitive and overdoing it is no shortcut to improvement.
“When starting off, small amounts more often is a lot better than going out for a 10-kilometre run,” MacKinnon says. “You’re much better off doing, say, four runs of three-to-five kilometres. You’re creating consistency before you’re creating load and you’re also doing it in a manner where you can manage that.”
Get yourself a shoe range
“If you’re running multiple times per week, get a rotation of shoes,” MacKinnon says. “Different types of shoes can load the feet differently, so it’s actually giving you a variable on the feet. Having one pair of shoes for, say, three runs a week, they wear out quicker. Having a rotation of shoes is better for the shoes and the runner.”
The cushioning, sole, shape and fit of a running shoe are all part of the science of better running – and can be tailored to suit different running styles and conditions. The ForeverRun NITRO range from PUMA is a good place to start your running adventure.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with PUMA. Double density NITRO foam provides optimal pressure distribution, guiding the foot during the running cycle.