How Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya!’ can make you a better runner

15 years later Outkast’s catchy track can still pack a dance floor and liven your party, however you probably had no idea that the “Shake it like a polaroid picture” tune can also help you perfect your technique and make you a better runner. Here we explain how…

 

One of the quickest ways to improve your running is to brush up your technique.

Cardiovascular fitness improvements will take a few weeks of regular training, however you can reap the benefits of technique tweaks after only one session! Refining your technique is all about saving wasted energy that you can now spend on running easier and longer.

 

There are many aspects to running technique, however overstriding is the most common technique mistake. Runners of all levels convince themselves that big strides equal better performance, however the complete reverse is true!

 

Stop putting your brakes on

Ideally our foot should strike the ground directly underneath our body when we’re running. Overstriding means that your foot strikes the ground well out in front of your body, creating a braking force with each step you take.   This interrupts your natural momentum meaning you’ll have to expend energy overcoming those brakes at each step!

 

Bounding your way to injury

Not only do you use more energy, you’ll also be increasing the jarring force going up your leg each time you hit the ground. The bigger and bouncier your step, the more force you hit the ground with, and the greater your risk of ending up with a muscle or joint injury over time.

 

Being frugal with our energy spenditure

When we shorten our strides and take quicker, smaller steps our foot will land under our centre of gravity – taking off these nasty brakes. We can then utilise that natural momentum and save all that energy for running faster or longer.

 

So how do we know when we’ve got our strides right?

World renowned running coach Jack Daniels found that most people achieve their best form when they reach a stride rate of 180 steps per minute.

 

Test yourself

During your next run, give yourself a simple stride test. When warmed up (the middle of your run is best) count how many times your feet hit the ground in 1 minute. Test three times and take an average. Most people find themselves at around 160 strides per minute when they first start working on their technique.

 

How does Hey Ya help?

Outkast’s catchy song is 180 beats per minute, which means it’s your perfect training partner! Listen to it on your run and strive to run to the beat. At first it will feel super fast and awkward, but it’s all about gradual changes over time. Trying to fix your stride technique in a couple of weeks will leave you frustrated and maybe even injured. Make it a 6 month goal, where baby steps are literally the goal.