Turbocharge your stride with technique tips from reigning Ironman world champion Pete Jacobs.
Pete Jacobs didn’t become the fastest runner in Ironman by simply getting fitter than his rivals—he also became more economical by carefully examining his mechanics. “When I read the book Born to Run I realized there was a more efficient way of running,” says the Ironman world champion. Motivated by the book, Jacobs started a yearlong process of pondering running philosophy and evaluating his own form. “One of my good mates and I would chat about it for hours while we were running, and that was how we developed our own sense of what good technique is and how we could improve the way we ran.” They came away with three conclusions that helped Jacobs develop into a Kona champion.
“You’ve got to stand tall, run proud with your chest up and feel as if something is pulling you up into the air,” Pete says. “If you drop your hips back, you slow down a lot.”
Pete says, “The foot should land underneath you with the heel and forefoot landing at the same time.”
“The arms drive cadence,” he says. “Just having really good arm carry with them close and relaxed, moving with a short choppy motion keeps the [foot] cadence high.”
Jacobs relies on two strategies to execute his keys to running form: relaxation and core support. To stay loose, he is constantly thinking about relaxing every muscle in his upper body, except the core. “I can feel the muscles jiggling that don’t need to be working,” he says. “I’m thinking about a systems check constantly while I run. The only muscles that are working are at my core.”
Five Dynamic Drills
To activate this key muscle group, Jacobs repeats the following five dynamic drills before or during workouts.
Watch Jacobs demonstrate the drills with this video and see the descriptions below:
Lunge with a twist: Drop down until the leading thigh is parallel to the ground. Twist the upper body toward the elevated knee. Do 5–10 reps on each leg.
Deep lunge: Lunge forward and put both hands on the ground. Lift up by straightening the lead leg, then drop back down and reach for the ground with your elbows inside the front leg. Return to standing to complete one rep. Do 5–10 reps on each leg.
Twisting grapevine: While performing the grapevine (aka carioca), twist the upper body into the leading foot while looking in the opposite direction. Take 5–10 steps in each direction.
Hamstring bowling: Bend one leg slightly and extend the other with your heel out in front. Lean forward and sweep one hand past the foot of the extended leg as you “walk,” alternating legs. Take 5–10 steps with each leg.
Stride-out: To bring everything together, do several 50-meter bursts building up to a near sprint then slowing gradually.
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