What I Learned About My Running at the UVA Speed Clinic

As promised, I am finally back with some more information about what I learned at the UVA Speed Clinic. A few weeks ago I shared what the Speed Clinic is and why I went. Today I will talk about what happened while I was there and what I learned about my running.

what I learned about my running

The first part of the session was my actual run on their fancy 3D treadmill. Anything I was wearing that was reflective had to be covered up with tape. As you all know, I don’t really run well on a treadmill, but this one was different! It looks like you are just running on the floor which happens to be moving. I ran for a few minutes to get comfortable, and then I ran again for a few more minutes while I was recorded. In total I probably ran for about 8-10 minutes.

Next we went through an assessment– you know, the kind when you go to PT or to get a typical running assessment. 

After that part of the session, we went over the results. (I think by this point I had already been there well over an hour). After everything was explained to me, I learned several new exercises and drills. I practiced everything for a while so I would know what I was doing when I did them at home (and was given lots of cues that I tried to remember). I left with a USB drive of all the reports from my analysis to take home with me, along with video demonstrations of the exercises (as well as level 2 exercises for when I am ready to progress.) Unfortunately, I can’t view some of the videos on my Mac, so I had to look at them on my work computer, and didn’t take pictures of that stuff.

I would also like to warn you that what I am about to share with you is my interpretation of what was told to me- hopefully it makes sense! So this is what I learned:

 stretching

One of the biggest things I learned was that I am extremely mobile and have plenty of flexibility, to the point where I don’t even need to stretch! Sure, if something in particular feels unusually tight I could stretch it, and I can still do yoga, but I don’t need to be forcing my body to be any more flexible than it already is.

I also learned that the way my hips are naturally positioned is not ideal (if they were lined up properly in the sockets my feet would face inward) and that likely contributed to my labral tear a few years ago. I asked about the impact of this on running, and was told that it’s not a problem. It’s more likely that all my dancing and field hockey were big contributing factors to that.

back

When I run I arch my back. My body moves in a way that seems like my torso and lower body are not connected. Without my back being in proper positioning, my glutes can’t fire. I get my legs to do what they need to do in whatever way I can, even if it’s by overusing smaller muscles or my hip flexors. I also don’t breathe into my diaphragm, even when I’m not running!

Chuck12

I also learned something about my right toe push-off not being efficient. This likely contributes to the piriformis on that side getting overworked. In general I land harder on my right side (maybe to protect my left hip which was the one that had surgery?)

forces

I wish I could have done a better job describing all of that, but some of  the takeaways are: I need more core stability (which I have been working on, but it’s still not where it needs to be), running drills to focus on proper form and foot placement, and I also need to learn to breathe using my diaphragm. I can stop stretching (even though I wasn’t doing a whole lot of that to begin with) and spend that time focusing on other things. 

oscillation

At this point, it’s been over two weeks, and I have been diligent about my exercises. It’s hard to gauge improvement until I start increasing my mileage and the intensity of my workouts, and it’s also challenging because I don’t have anyone watching my form on my exercises (as I would if I were going to a PT). However, I did notice that my vertical oscillation has dropped significantly since I started my new routine!

I think that’s enough for now! I’ll write more about what I am doing and how it’s going another day. 

Have you ever made changes to your running form?

Do you know of any issues with the way you prone (or the way your body is built) that makes you more prone to injuries?

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39 thoughts on “What I Learned About My Running at the UVA Speed Clinic

  1. This is so cool! I think you explained things well. I haven’t changed my form, it scare me to sometimes think about it because I am afraid that thinking about it and trying to do something would hurt me! I sometimes overthink my feet when my shoes are bothering me and then I tell myself to stop because I adjusting how I hit the ground without proper guidance to tell me I need to/show me how can’t be smart lol. I love that you don’t have to stretch!
    meredith @ Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted…New Treadmill WorkoutMy Profile

  2. So cool! It sounds like you got some really unique, personal information. It’s incredible that they could tell you that you don’t have to stretch anymore. Hopefully before long the changes your’re making based on their recommendations will become second nature. Thanks for sharing!
    Sam @ See Sam Run recently posted…Olympic Marathon Trials Eve!My Profile

  3. Seriously so interesting! I have to say that scientifically it’s all fascinating how these things play into our running, like a puzzle. I can totally see how dancing all your life probably doesn’t exactly help your body run and that you’re more than flexible enough. I wonder what I’d find out for myself, I’m actually guessing some similar things, but who knows. I was a faster runner when I literally never stretched at all, oddly, but I love yoga and stretching!
    Michele @ paleorunningmomma recently posted…Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread {Paleo}My Profile

  4. SO happy you shared these results with us! I know that right now, especially, my push off would be extremely inefficient–my feet right now are so week. I too am pretty flexible, but I just get very tight in my hips. I’m sure that they would just laugh at me right now if I went in!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Friday Favorites! I RAN!! (ish)My Profile

  5. So many interesting things! I also have slightly turned out feet from ballet I’d assume, which means I have to be really careful since that’s what likely caused my hip injury two summers ago. I also tend to feel like even though I’m flexible, I HAVE to stretch or I get stiff. My shoulders are always really tight, unlike my legs which can still do splits, although unsure if that helps running at all…
    Alyssa @ RenaissanceRunnerGirl recently posted…Five Healthy Snack IdeasMy Profile

  6. This is so interesting! It fascinates me how all of these seemingly little things make a difference in our running form. I’m so not flexible and I’m starting to wonder if that somehow is what keeps me injury free. I’m interested to read about what you’re doing; sometimes I wish I had studied to be a PT because seriously I could spend hours learning about this stuff.
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…Fueling on Your Runs: Why, How, and WhenMy Profile

  7. I find this SO interesting! I’d love to get a more in-depth look at my running form/technique. I’ve tried to become more of a midfoot striker, but sometimes that’s tough for me. My mom has had notoriously bad hips, so because of that I’ve worked on becoming more diligent with stretching them and doing lower body strength training.
    Jen B. recently posted…Friday Faves: Valentine’s Day IdeasMy Profile

  8. A couple years ago I had to change how I land on my feet, and I feel lighter on them when I’m running. I know I have so stretch, and I’m sure I have to stretch more. Last weekend when I had to use the treadmill, I didn’t feel fluid at all when I was running. I’m hoping stretching more will help prep me for runs.
    Lesley recently posted…Friday Five: Disney SongsMy Profile

  9. I completely understood everything you described. Makes perfect sense to me! And I wish SO MUCH that I could go get analyzed. I have a verrrry strange running style. But the thing is, is it’s worked for me for so long for so many miles. I bet I could change things up to be more efficient and knock some time off my PRs but I’d need professionals to help me with that. If I started to try to fix it on my own, I know I’d screw it all up and get injured. I DO know that I need to do core work, and I need to stretch. Those things I know for sure.
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  10. Thanks for sharing this. I don’t live terribly far from UVA and this is definitely interesting. It seems like it would be really beneficial for anyone looking to get better.

  11. Very cool information. It seems like everything comes down to core and glutes! I am so not flexible, I can’t even cross my legs like that if I use my hands!

  12. Thanks for sharing Lisa! You can never have too much data. My PT has a running clinic with a special treadmill that measures stuff like this – not as much detail as the UVA clinic – but information on your push-off, pressure, cadence so that they could figure out what muscles are under-performing (my right leg is the weak spot). And I am your total opposite – no flexibility at all!

  13. i started taking core classes a few months back because my dr told me something similar about my form. i can feel the improvement in my back but i still need to work on the flexibility there (she told me my back was too straight…what?!?). im super jealous they told you that you are so flexible you could not stretch anymore. thats pretty cool!

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