Technique Analysis; Mo Farah
Updated: Jun 2, 2019
I offer video technique analysis, in face to face sessions and online, where I look at your top to toe running style and see if there are any areas that could be tweaked to reduce injury risk and, therefore, improve performance.
Often in these conversations I talk about Mo Farah as pretty much a picture perfect running, so I thought I’d do a brief analysis of his style to explain some of the technique areas I look at.
Let’s start by looking at his overall shape we he runs;
His head and torso are in a straight line and his back leg continuing that strong straight line as he pushed forwards. His eyes and head are looking forwards and not right down in front of him. If you were to watch the video footage you’d see his whole torso and head staying pretty steady and still, as an anchor or foundation for all the work the arms and legs are doing.
His back leg is extending far backwards from his body, the glutes, hamstrings and calves are working in synchronisation. This is called triple extensions, where your leg muscles are powering you forwards in the most efficient way, it’s common in us mere mortals for the glutes not driving the leg backwards at the hip as much as they should. I recommend glute and core strength work for all my runners for this reason, the glutes should be the most powerful running muscle in your body.
Interestingly the more drive you can put through the back leg to push you forwards the more it will fold under you and step forwards, very nearly automatically. We expend very little energy pulling the leg forwards it we get the push off from the back leg right.
We see that his knee is driving forwards really nicely, the legs comes forwards under his hips with the knee bent and the shin tucked up high to minimise energy loss. The foot comes high at the back of the stride for the same reasons. This is one reason I often work with runners on foot pick up to get this movement pattern working effectively.
As the foot comes through it lands just ahead of his hips, importantly it lands after it’s already started travelling backwards towards his body again. He’s pulling himself along the ground as his leg continues to travel backwards. This is as opposed the landing on his foot as the most forward point of his stride, meaning it acts like a brake.
Front on you can see that his body is facing forwards more than the runner on the left, there is less rotation and therefore less energy loss. With stable pelvis, back and head he’s also got both legs driving forwards and backwards in straight lines from the hip joints, not rotating or stepping inwards like the other runner is.
His hands are coming forwards without crossing too far across his body. If you have a zip up the front of your running jacket, your hands shouldn’t cross over this line. This is tied to the fact that he’s driving his arms backwards really nicely again without moving sideways. When running fast his upper arm is parallel with the ground! this helps propel him forwards, making use of the natural elastic energy storage in the body.
What often happens with runners that drive a lot, do a desk job or another “arms forward” job is that the shoulders gradually tighten forwards of where they should be and this restricts the backward arm drive and speed.
Overall Mo’s technique is very good…! If you follow him on social media (I took these photos from his accounts) you’ll see his great form is heavily influenced by the amount of time and effort he spends strength training, a lesson for us all.
If you are interesting in finding out what your running technique is like drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org