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The Importance of Run Mechanics

By Jesse Kropelnicki

runner shadowRunning mechanics is a topic that many athletes feel is of little consequence. But, running mechanics can mask an athlete’s true fitness and speed potential, especially at longer distances where many of the supporting muscle groups become so fatigued late into the race. These inefficiencies typically combine with an already slowing “engine” and lead to very slow splits, relative to the athlete’s open running ability. This occurs on a regular basis at both the elite and age group levels, and can often be avoided by paying run mechanics the same level of attention as swim and bike techniques.

The goal of long-distance running is to bring as much of your open running abilities into the race as possible. It is important to maintain an anabolic mental state. Anabolic? You bet! Chest out and head up, like a sprinter exploding across the finish line. That is what I mean by anabolic. This is in direct contrast to the catabolic carriage, which is evidenced by a crumbling posture and negative state of mind. Obviously, it is unlikely that any of you are going to cross the finish line of your next race looking like Usain Bolt. But, that should certainly be the ideal that we strive for, and close attention to running mechanics is our fastest ticket in getting there.

How do we reach this anabolic state of mind? The answer is in addressing and eliminating the issues that lead to a catabolic state that may currently haunt you. Poor flexibility, weakness in non-primary muscle groups, a cognitive inability to find proper posture, and mental weakness on race day can all contribute to your catabolic state. So, with these items in mind, let’s consider the most common areas of deficiency seen in runners and triathletes. This video will discuss these items before they derail the fitness that we have worked so hard to produce.

Jesse Kropelnicki, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon Level II certified coach who founded QT2 Systems, LLC and He is the triathlon coach of professional athletes Caitlin Snow, Dede Griesbauer, Ethan Brown and Tim Snow, among others. His interests lie in coaching professional triathletes using quantitative training and nutrition protocols. You can track his coaching blog at

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.