Kenyan Athletics: A Deep Dive into How They Train - Part IV: Running Form

Running Form and Movement Style

Kenyan athletes in full triple extension

Going to Kenya has shown me that traditionally good running form may not be entirely necessary for a certain population to find success in distance running. This is not to say that all Americans should stop working on their running form, because we need all of the help that we can get, but Kenyans just move differently, and my hunch for this is that they may be utilizing the facial system over muscle power far more often than we do.

Holding good form at the end of a workout

It almost seems as if their head is separate from their body, such relaxation, fluidity, and disassociation from the pain they absolutely feel while running hard. We have all seen it at the end of a marathon when all of the east Africans are clicking off 4:30 miles and making it look ridiculously smooth.

They have strides that are smooth as butter, but many cross midline with their arms, many have poor cadence, and they all seem to have some form of mile knee valgus on the downstep that would suggest a lack of glute strength, but none of this matters for them.

Although they don’t all have traditionally “good form”, this may be made up for with a hefty aerobic foundation and all of the other compounding factors. It seems as though they find ways to move with a smooth and relaxed gait no matter the pace or terrain they are running.

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