Run Form - Slow Running

Ask the top Kenyans what form is like when running slower than 5m k’s. Watch some videos of the “Kenyan Shuffle” where they are doing 9+ min/miles

Form may feel poor when running slowly, but that is one of the reasons to run slowly, to improve efficiency at that pace. How many are going to run 7min / miles or faster for an ironman here, so you need to train to have good form at slower speeds. It is very easy to lose the “elasticity” and plod though so takes focus.

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Watch the Kenyan kids who develop their form BEFORE they get to the point where they need long and slow…

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I think thats the difference , very similar to swimming, AOS try to build “endurance” with long slow swimming, and ex swimmers already have years of good form behind them swimming short and sharp.
Its almost like running needs coaching as a skill like swimming :wink:


who would have thought???



Its one of those conundrums as a coach of adult triathletes, as you’d know, kids we get having fun, doing “skills school” type stuff, lots of short sharp work through play, and they develop a good form through repetition and lack of fatigue but take a new adult wanting to do their first sprint or in IMJ style straight to IM, and its a balance between spending time working on form and building the endurance and they are rarely truly ready to “run”. I guess this is where your “dislike” of Parkrun comes from as it promotes people “running” before they are ready to run and ultimately leads to injury.

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although we now see more and more children doing park run and being heralded as champions…

the battle is lost straight away…even elite runners struggle to hold form over 26 miles…

injury isn’t unique to park run - it existed before and occurs in pretty much every runner regardless. To counter my own argument, it is possible that shuffling round a park run once a week can actually be less likely to cause injury…however, the more people run, the faster they tend to go and this too will ultimately lead to injury…

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I’d rather kids do parkrun than not do it at all. Most parents don’t have an innate sense of getting their kids fit at all, let alone good form. Parkrun is time efficient, it can be done as a family.


Most of the critiques of 80/20 I’ve read are that most folks do their easy runs too hard and their hard runs too easy. :man_shrugging:

This is where blindly listening to some of the “Twitter physiologists” like AC or things like “MAF method” can be counter intuitive I suppose, as its saying do most things really slow but they never caveat that with actually you will need to spend a lot of time working on improving your running form ideally before upping the miles.

Its difficult isn’t it; for some kids, school aside I bet its their only exercise and then is it a bad thing.

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Sure…i understand that and agree…but that is a sad indictment on parents, schools and the health and fitness industry in general…

i had a great conversation with a developing coach a couple of weeks ago…she objected to my observations on park run and highlight all the good it did for a women’s group she supported…

Like your observation, i fully agree…however, she hadn’t considered how exclusive this ‘group’ is…

We like to think of sport and especially running as being inclusive whereas, by its very nature, it is highly exclusive…


I don’t know that this is exclusive to the critics…but it certainly is the case for many (most?) athletes…

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Imagine if that women’s group had a female coach who spent that 30-45mins each Saturday doing running drills and skills work with them and short repetitions, same social aspect, similar fitness gains, better results maybe. Its almost like there’s an opportunity there for the right coach!


Yep…spot on…

It’s a very interesting point. Due to my work, I’ve been actively (excuse the pun) looking at examples of what genuine inclusiveness means. There are groups like Black Trail Runners that are doing great things but copped some criticism for setting up an ‘exclusive’ group. It’s a minefield.

Running IMO, is very inclusive as it’s the easiest and by and large, the cheapest sport or exercise to do. It doesn’t hold up when you think about whether disabled people can run etc but for me, the biggest barrier is the parents themselves.

Most parents could get behind their kids playing football or rugby as even if they don’t do it themselves, they can drink coffee on the sideline.
Running requires effort to support your kids (not just running) and this is where I think parkrun scores, you can walk/run as a family and the kids will see other kids they know there. the only place they can see others doing the same thing really is an athletic club and that’s a whole different level.

Form and development wise, if I had to drop one of the two for LO, I would drop parkrun in favour of the athletic club. However, the quality of the social aspect and the metrics parkrun give are very encouraging IMO. Yes. you’ll get parents thinking they have the next Mo Farrah or Paula Radcliffe but overall, the confidence kids get at being around loads of ‘grown ups’ in the same race is a positive thing.

I have this conversation with Mrs FP about sport and music, in that the passion has to come from somewhere and then you’re more likely to want to work on form. This is where parkrun scores IMO, it sows the seed.


That’s a good response, as ever FP, and i have some push back…but need to do some work…preparing some exclusive running plans :wink:

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Don’t disagree with the notion of addressing form but part of the positive self efficacy of things like ParkRun and couch to 5k, etc is actually doing the thing. While I agree with promoting skill development, for the population looking to get active through running you have to make sure they run enough to make them feel good about it.


They would be actually doing the thing, just in a more controlled environment and without feeling the need to run faster each week. Its not all drills, but its about using repetitions short enough to elicit both fitness and skills gains due to fatigue not building. There’s nothing to say the group doesn’t do a 5k once a month or bimonthly, but you see it in PR’ers “racing” every week for a PB and doing very little else during the week, with a small group they may then decide to meet on a Tuesday evening as well. Even the A.C. tell the kids (13+ mainly) that they shouldn’t be racing at a PR every week but no harm showing up to do them as part of a longer run or run/walk or just steady for recovery but remember these kids are already well on their way to having a reasonable amount of form behind them that running slowly isn’t much different (in form terms) to running fast

Absolutely, one of the reasons I am not particularly fond of strava.

I may well be wrong here, i often am. But i think we’re over estimating the general population here a bit. Not mny give a stuff about form and drills and genuine performance improvement. I think the Parkrun gives a nice little carrot to chase, but if they don’t PB every week they don’t really care, otherwise they’d be out there running more frequently and looking for running clubs etc.

I think anything that gets people out and moving is a great thing (I know that point isn’t being disputed here). What the whole form discussion is centring on is genuine, thoughtful and conscious desire to improve at running from the bottom up.

-Take me. Being 100% honest, i’m never going to go doing drills and stuff for my running. WOuld it make me better? 99% likely yes. Would it make me more injury resilient? 156% likely, yes! Do those aspects outweigh my enjoyment of not being (as) disciplined and just going out there and running - casually with mates, hard in sessions, races, parkruns, massively under prepared stupid ultras? Nope. Yet i’m supposedly in the bracket of people that genuinely care about performance and longevity (it doesn’t help that i’m inherently lazy!!! :rofl: )

I think there’s a parallel to spinning classes or general gym goers. The general outcome of being a bit healthier is, for a lot of people, going to outweigh the drive for technical excellence.

Playing devil’s advocate here, but surely the NHS would prefer to deal with 1 in 10 people coming in with calf strains every now and again than that same number turning up 10 years later with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes etc etc requiring long term, expensive and resource heavy treatment?

I just think there are different populations out there that have VERY different drivers. My girls love junior parkrun. It gets them out on a Sunday and they like meeting their friends. OK they’re super active outside of this as well as we spend a lot of time outdoors as a family; but there’s no way (the eldest at least) they’ll want to join a proper club. Yet learning that they can’t PB every week and dealing with the highs and lows that come with ‘good’ runs and ‘bad’ runs are also further life lessons that we’re helping to guide them through.

As always, my points are not scientific in nature; i’m more of a gut feel person. But these are the musings of Gingerbongo on the subject; that nobody asked for. Now i need to get my haircut so i’m more aero instead of working on slow running form :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: