Natural Form Running Clinic Notes

Last Friday, I attended a Natural Form Running Clinic hosted by Newton Running.

I met up with the Newton guys, was given a pair of Newton Light Weight Universal Trainers to put on and after quick introductions, we were off on a quick run over to the Boston Commons for our clinic. Led by Michael, we went through proper posture (head up, core engaged, “athletic positioning” of flexed ankle and flexed knee, arms at a 90-degree angle), the benefits of midfoot/forefoot strike (cushion and energy return) and quick cadence (ideally 180 steps per minute). We did a couple of exercises to get a feel for a quicker cadence and to work on the forward lean, leaning from your ankles (visualize leading with your sternum).

Then we were off for a run around the Commons. Since there were only two of us in the clinic, Michael was able to watch each of us closely and provide lots of feedback. We covered uphill, down hill and flat surfaces so we could feel the difference in the lean and learning to “flow forward with gravity.” Using his iPad, Michael then video taped each of us and then show us the areas we need to work on. For me, increasing my cadence will help to take better advantage of the elastic recoil in my lower leg muscles; also need to lean forward just a bit more to make sure I’m not sinking back on the heal when I land. I was happy to hear that overall my form looked good and I was definitely moving in the right direction! Michael then took us through a couple of post-run exercises to help re-enforce proper foot placement/landing and the mechanics of the leg rotation. He emphasized the benefit of doing these exercises at the end of every run to help build muscle memory.

When I got the invitation to attend the clinic, I went, in part, to see how their approach might differ from Chi Running. I actually found them to be very similar, though I did think with in this clinic there was a greater emphasis on the bio-mechanics of developing the proper foot strike. This may be in part due to their claim that Newtons are the only shoe on the market that will help you develop proper midfoot strike so they have more of a focus here. Also, given that I’d been through a Chi Running clinic and had a better understanding of the overall approach, I could now geek out on the details a bit more. (Quick aside: Running in the Newtons definitely felt different and piqued my interest regarding the role they could play in helping my form, but honestly that $175 price tag puts them out of my range for now).

Overall I thought it was a great clinic – the crew from Newton were a lot of fun and I definitely picked up some new tips to incorporate into my running! Thanks again to Newton for inviting me!