Running Form - Run Longer, Faster, and Injury Free - tips for beginners and advanced runners with Jay Ridgeway
Hello, everybody. We are so fortunate to have a legend. Coach Jay Ridgeway, 20 years helping athletes be happier, healthier versions of themselves through PacWest Endurance. He's also an accomplished athlete in his own right. Oregon Duck graduate, triathlete, ironman finisher, Boston marathon participant, and biomechanics expert.
Jay also has an accomplished daughter, Emily, who is an ironwoman, and finished the Kona world championships. She has followed in her father's footsteps and now leads PacWest endurance.
Check out this great episode where we talk about proper running form - which will help you run longer, more efficiently, faster, and injury free.
Links Talked About During this Show
Podcast TranscriptionThe following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
jay Ridgeway Episode
Jay Ridgeway: [00:00:00]
I mean, again, unfortunately in our world, you know, advertising and all that nature, you know, it's always the, sort of the pretty looking male and female athletes that are on the print covers and things of that. But that's not reality. And that's one of the things that why I'm in coaching is that those are the w the one percenters, right?
ultimately as a coach, I want my athletes to get to the start line as physically and mentally healthy as they can. And then cross that finish line.
Kevin Chang: [00:00:27]
Hello and welcome to the race mob podcast. This is episode number 21. I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and the founder of race mob. I'm joined by master motivator, founder of two legit fitness co-chair of the Taji 100, our a certified coach USA track and field certified official the incomparable Bertrand Newson.
We have a special treat for you today. Jay Ridgeway of PAC Western Durance. I'll let Bertrand give you that fabulous introduction here in a little bit, but before we begin, I wanted to let you know that since today's discussion focuses in, on running form, and since many of us are visual learners, I really encourage you to go online and check out the show notes where Jay Ridgeway breaks down my running form. Step-by-step. You can check out the show notes at race mob.com/running form. All one word. Or if it's easier, just text form two 1234-OKAY-RAY-0. And you'll get texted that link right back.
This episode is brought to you by race, mob, and inclusive community for endurance athletes. If you like our podcast, you'll love our YouTube channel, where we keep you up to date with news for them running world and give you tips that will help you improve door running. Check us out by searching race mob on YouTube and subscribe today.
Bertrand Newson: [00:01:48]
Hello, everybody. We are so fortunate to have a legend. coach Jay Ridgeway, 20 years helping athletes be happier, healthier versions of themselves and accomplished athlete in his own. Right. Hey, Oregon. Duck graduate. Yes. Go ducks. Triathlete, iron man, Boston marathon, multiple time finisher expert.
As it relates to running form motivating. He spreading the love of fitness by way. Of his daughter, Emily, who is in her own and accomplished iron woman, finished the Kona world championships and has followed in her father's footsteps. So yes, coach Jay Woodway of PAC West endurance. Welcome to the race mob family.
Welcome to the waist mob audience. You're certainly in for a treat today with plenty of takeaways and yes, coach no pressure, no pressure.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:02:43]
Well, coach B an amazing introduction, probably undeserved, but I do appreciate the kind words, Kevin, also a pleasure as I've gotten to know you both. Just honored to be here and excited to share or whatever knowledge, I can, with you guys. So just shoot away with questions and I'll do the best I can.
And then take it from there. How's that sound?
Kevin Chang: [00:03:03]
That sounds fantastic. Usually we like to just start off with getting to know you a little bit better. So tell us, how did you get into the endurance sport and, yeah. And what was kind of your journey along the way?
Jay Ridgeway: [00:03:14]
Oh boy, Kevin that's that's. Yeah, I'm not a young man. I'm not a young man, Kevin. So, uh, is this an, this an hour show or two hour show or three hour show?
Bertrand Newson: [00:03:24]
Jay Ridgeway: [00:03:26]
The cool thing is that my relationship with Bertrand, which is relatively new, but the lot of the cold tie-ins of where his organization to legit fitness is located, this is my hometown.
I grew up in San Jose, California. I went to San Jose Teresa high school. Brunel junior high school. And that's really Brunel is where I started my athletic career. At least the running endurance eventually into triathlon side. when I was 11 years old, so going into sixth grade, going into middle school, I had two older sisters who were actively involved and running and soccer and all that stuff.
And so I kind of follow their legacy and kind of took it to another level in terms of really fall in love with the individuality of. Cross country running and track and field, but also the team aspect of as well. So yeah, I've been doing this. Oh my God. Uh, 52 years of age started at 11, so it was at 41 years of competitive, racing and, , training and all that stuff, off and on throughout the years, obviously fatherhood and things like that kind of sideline you for a little bit, but I've been doing it a long, long time.
And then Bertrand said in the intro, 1998 or so I kind of decided, Hey, I. Kind of want to give back and started volunteer coaching through a wonderful organization, which is the leukemia lymphoma society's team in training got involved with that fundraised and was successful, went from volunteer coach to assistant coach, and actually got a little bit of a paycheck to do that.
Then with that came up with the idea of like, okay, well we're all these people that have fundraising successfully completed their third event with them. We, where do they go? What do they do? And so that's where the concept of Pacific West athletics. Now Pacwest endurance started, which was in 2002. So we've come a long way, long journey, many races under the belt, short and many long ones as well, too.
And lots of learning along the way, trial and error. And with that, sharing of knowledge , with athletes who then in turn share their experiences along the way. And there's some, there's some funny stories that I've shared with you guys in the past. The people that have learned sometimes the hard way, but it's extremely rewarding.
Theyre family, a lot of those athletes are close. Personal friends as per Tran probably has come to experience with his organization. And yeah, it's been a fun journey. I don't know if I've answered your question or not, but hopefully that's helped.
Kevin Chang: [00:05:37]
I mean, I think this is going to be the first in a series of discussions that we have, you've helped so many beginner athletes realize their potential and and grow in the sport. What we wanted to focus some of today's conversation or most of today's conversation on was running form because I think most of us athletes and many of us have gotten to the sport later in life.
Many of us never had a coach and never had somebody to look over our running form, give us pointers, give us tips. And so we'd love to kind of pick your brain a little bit and dig in a little bit deeper. So I guess, you know, it's not a visual show right now, although we will have video up of you actually analyzing my running form, which is.
The first time I've ever had my running form analyze, and there's so many takeaways from it. so we'll have links to that video analysis online, but from an audio perspective, can you describe proper running form to a beginner or how you would go about thinking about proper running form?
Jay Ridgeway: [00:06:33]
Yeah. That's the big challenge, Kevin and coach B in terms of how do you, how do you audio describe what I critique with my athletes? And so. I would consider myself an old school coach. I, I love seeing and being able to touch meal and, and correct my athletes physically in front of them, obviously, especially in this particular year, 2020, it's a different ball game now.
And good news is, is that technology has come a very, very long way to where I can actually. Take video clips and actually break them down, which is what I've done with you, Kevin, and be able to, to not physically be there, but still be able to critique effectively, uh, provide the audio, recording the slowing down, drawing arrows and circles around you and picking on you for the lack of better description in a constructive way. Right?
But yeah, I think the biggest thing that I've learned over my years of, coaching and in particular, and I appreciate you bringing that up. You know, one of the big things that I have really loved to do in my coaching is the, as a form analysis piece, obviously in triathlon, you have the swimming component.
And you have the biking component, but in the particular run component. Cause that's my first love and passion, you know, starting competitive running at the age of 11, I really kind of focused in on that to really do full form analysis. And you know, this is video capture. This is breaking down, they're putting foot sensors into your shoes and things like that.
So it can get pretty sophisticated now. And I did not have you do that cause I'm not physically in the same city as you. And that, and that's some of the downsides of that that said. You know, a lot of people who get into running, it's a natural progression for them to simply take their walking form, which is heel to toe.
we all do that in order to walk. And that is just the normal functionality of assesses human beings. The issue with that is that because we have protective shoes, we're, we're on surfaces that are necessary to, to wear protective footwear. A lot of people simply take that walking form and then put a little bit more energy and effort into it.
And then transition that into a more aggressive walking form, which quote unquote becomes their running form in an ideal world. If we were to put , let's say a group of 20 newbie athletes that have never explored, running before and, and. All the specifics that I would be looking for and just put them on a, a safe field, but say at my Alma mater at, Santa Teresa high school, on the football field, there took their shoes off and then had them sort of feel their way through their running form, the body's natural tendency and the way it was designed, it was that they would eventually transition to a forefoot strike or mid-foot strike versus a heel strike. The reason being is that there's the ball of the foot it's bone, and there's minimal tissue between that bone and the ground. And if you're striking with your heel, that is a very unpleasant experience. And so the body would naturally, without even any thought transition to that more midfoot, natural foot.
And so that's the, the high level concept of what I would try to instill and have. These athletes think about and you in particular, Kevin. So that's the crux of the challenges. We have a lot of these cushion shoes. Some companies take it too extreme. I'm not going to name names what they are, and then some to take it to the opposite of that, which is the minimalist this side.
There are pluses and minuses of both depends on the terrain that you're running in. Do you like trail or do you need more cushioning? Cause you're going up and down. If you're on safe cushion surfaces, like a track you on the more minimalist, this side is probably appropriate. I mean, you look at the Olympics and track and field they're wearing minimal track shoes.
Minimal padding and things like that with some spikes on it for maximum traction, but yet minimal weight and things like that. So it gets very sophisticated and shoe types and things like that. But back to the high level form analysis is that if we can transition a runner and it could take extremely long discipline practice after practice after practice for some, some it's more natural.
If we can get them to where they're running, the way the body was designed naturally to do, which is that natural forefoot, midfoot strike, then the enjoyment of running and the success of continual running and the frequency of running is more enjoyable when you're doing it in the, in aggressive walking form, where you're basically breaking with each heel strike and then having to reaccelerate out of that, especially if you're running aggressively and for long distances, that's very, very challenging for the body to handle that. And a lot of times there's injuries that come out of that, you know, there's a whole list of what that can be. Does that help answer your question?
Kevin Chang: [00:10:56]
Yeah, absolutely. And I think things that I've read or looked at is definitely the heel strike is also common for people that overstride. So a lot of beginners kind of tend to. Take a longer stride than they should and hitting the heel actually kind of breaks the body. So, if you're putting your brakes on basically, and it doesn't allow you to keep that forward momentum or kind of propel you forward, are there other cues that you look at other than foot strike and are there drills maybe that people that you've used with athletes.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:11:28]
Running efficiently, effectively. It's a full body workout. Your body from head to toe needs to be in sync. Everything has to be in the right ideal position. And again, everybody comes in different shapes and sizes. The limitations are there, but overall it is a full body sequence. It's not just how your foot strikes the ground.
That said, let me step back for one second here. Some of the most elite level runners, elite level multi-sport athletes in the heat of their competition, they will heel strike and that's okay. And that's just part of the game. So heel striking is not the taboo to end all things, is just that overall in terms of trying to train and be more efficient, more effective, I mean the more efficient you're the runner you are in terms of heel strike, you're going to be, you're going to be faster.
That's number one, right? Number two, you're going to be able to minimum is that risk of injury because you're more efficient, you're running more effectively. So that's a good thing. That means you can continue to run. More frequently, you can do a long run today and then be able to recover because of that efficiency and be able to run tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
Right? So it's important to understand that I'm not saying heel striking is bad heel striking I'll heel strike in a race. You mean when you have fatigue? You're tired. It is a natural tendency to do, but in the optimal world for you to become a more effective runner, trying to train yourself and your body, because, you know, again, your body has to learn.
We all get into bad ruts, right? In order to get out of those bad ruts and anything, it takes practice. I wanted to make sure. That was specified that heel striking is a common thing, even at the highest of levels of competition. if you guys remember that Nike sponsored event, that was amazing, which was the goal to break two hour marathon, right?
You look at all those elite level runners that were supporting, they were all at one point during that marathon heel striking, and these are the best of the best of the best. Right? So it's important to understand that.
Kevin Chang: [00:13:23]
And you, do you think that's because they're trying to keep up or what do you think.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:13:28]
This gets into a situation where you are, like you said, the overstriding piece to maintain that cadence and all that stuff. It gets into a situation where it's okay, what I'm trying to teach us, like, what is the body ideally designed to do? Right. And, and let's be honest, those guys were so running and shoes.
They were running in special Nike shoes, right. that had the cushioning and all that stuff. So it allowed them to be able to take the impact of that heel strike if they did not have that. And they were on a relatively. Hard from surface. They may he'll strike a balance. I guarantee they would not have heel strike as much as they did in the race because of just the, like I said before, if we were to the three of us were able to physically take off our shoes and be on a hard surface and jump up down like jump roping and decide, okay.
Instead of landing on her forefoot and taking all that spring action of our knee, bend our hip in our ankle band. And that forefoot flex in our foot. And we said, okay, let's lock her knees. That's locker ankles, and then land on or heel. It is very unpleasant. We would not do that for very long. Right. So that's my point.
There is that the goal with my running analysis and teaching our athletes, how to be optimal in their running form and the how that foot strikes. That's what I'm looking for that said, Kevin, the next point was, you know, are there drills? Oh my God, there are countless numbers of drills, the drills, drills drills.
So if you ever went to, you know, my coach workouts for pack last, whether it's a outdoor bootcamp program or especially a track and field. We are not running right away. We are doing drills. We are doing effective drills that help get our body one warmed up and then two getting us into the right sequences to encourage proper writing for them.
We don't have enough time to talk about all the different drills that I would be looking at doing at least today, but I can certainly put together a list of what I would prefer at at basis. You know, there's 10 to 12 of those. That I would encourage athletes to do pre running again.
If you're strapped for time, which we all are, and you're, you know, you're trying to juggle a year, a aggressive, you know, a stressful work environment.
You've got kids running around in a home and all that stuff, and you're like, okay, I just need to get a 30 minute run. And I would prefer to have some drills, at least some of that initially. in an ideal world, but I also understand that just time is time is precious these days. So, but if you go to a coached workout and that is the benefit of having coach and structure and things of that nature, which I know coach B does a, does that in spades with his organization, I'm hoping that they are doing drills and I'm sure they are because of the inherent benefits of that and seemed valuable in my opinion, as a professional coach.
Does that make sense?
Bertrand Newson: [00:15:56]
Yes, it does. And thank you very much. It's way to break down the foot strike component of someone's running economy. It'd be great. I know we will get some suggested dynamic warmup exercises from you that we'll share with our listeners, but if there were, if you're pressed for time and if there were two, three, four exercises that you can maybe just describe bud kickers, high knees things along those lines from coach Jay's perspective, we're going to get the most bang for your buck or most return on your time as a benefit you're getting primed up for that running exercise.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:16:27]
So Kevin, as I said jokingly, before we started recording that, I looked at your video, broken down and said, there's tremendous opportunity, Kevin, tremendous opportunity to improve your writing forum. And I say that jokingly off, say your farm's not that bad, but you are a heel striker and there's opportunities there to learn.
So here's what I would do, Kevin, from an audio standpoint is that if you're at the front door, inside your home and you're walking out that front door and you're you're right in the landing there. Of your sidewalk to go out onto the road. What I would ask my athletes to do is simply do these drills.
So you're going to basically be standing feet flat, arms to the side, and you're going to start marching in place. I want you to March in place, when you're marching in place, are you striking your heel?
Kevin Chang: [00:17:12]
Yeah. Generally. No.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:17:13]
Yeah. So your arm opposite arm, the leg sequence, you're marching in place. And what you're doing is when you're landing that Flint is coming down in your forefoot or at the very least your midfoot, right?
So that is the body's natural design of getting you into the sequence of what it's designed to do. It's pretty straightforward. This is not rocket science. Everybody. What I teach is not rocket science. There's no special little piece there. What I'm trying to do is just get it ingrained into an athlete's head of the basics of it, what the body was specifically designed to do.
So by simply marching in place, you're already in the proper landing sequence of what I'm looking for. Now, it gets more complicated than that, right? But that's the basis of step outside your door. Your door is open you step outside and you're outside and you're ready to run. Start marching in place. Once you get the feel of how your foot is landing and your opposite arm to sequence.
Again, we talked about full body, right? So your arm is, and how your shoulders move and your hand, you clinch your hands, like a fist. Are you angry? Your, your shoulders tense and all that stuff. We can talk about all that here in a moment, but the basis of marching in place. Then after you get the feel that you simply move that into a light running in place, right?
You take that cadence up and now you're actually getting off the ground. You're motioning in place, and now you're running in place maintaining what you were doing when you're marching in place. And so you're now in a more aggressive movement pattern and you're not heel striking. Does that make sense?
Yeah. So hopefully everybody's visually thinking about that. Or quite frankly, if you're listening to this, try it step away from the desk or off the couch and you can do it right in your living room, right. You're drowning in place, arms and sink, and you're getting the feel of how that flows, the striking the ground.
Then when you're ready, it could be a minute or two into this, right. You're ready to move propel forward. And that's where hopefully with all the other drill techniques, Those are two basic fundamental drills that I would just simply say right off the bat that you can do to start your run. Does that make sense, gentlemen?
Kevin Chang: [00:19:09]
Yeah, absolutely. I don't know if there are specific techniques that you like to teach. I know that there's like pose method. There's G running. There's a couple of these different things. I think a lot of them kind of suggest that you do that marching or that standing up, and then you just, you lean forward and you get your, your body weight for, so I guess, other than the foot, where should your upper body be?
Are there cues that you're thinking about or teaching athletes or how do you kind of. Teach lean or, you know,
Jay Ridgeway: [00:19:37]
Yeah. Yeah. Well, you bring up the pose method. So very familiar with that. You bring up the cheeky running method and I apologize. I feel bad without the game here, but, the gentlemen that actually founded that was a Bay area native. I went to a number of his clinics. Benny. Yeah. And he's since relocated to the North Carolina or South Carolina many years now, but, when he first launched that I was a big supporter of that.
In addition to that, I indirectly and knowingly, gotten involved in the early aspects of, Pacwest. we had brought on a, sports physiologists. Amy Roberts, who was back in Colorado, in Boulder, in the early stages with a gentleman named Danny Abshire, who was the co-founder of Newton running shoes.
They introduced the importance of forefoot striking and helping some of the top love athletes. Paula Newby Frazier comes to name. And the book that Daniel wrote about how she was heavily injured, going into Ironman world championships, he was able to break her down and see what was going on and be able to correct her.
And not only allow her to continue to race in that, that world championships that year, but, subsequently go on to win three or two or three more world championships because of that. And that was the precipice of them starting a very unique design shoe, with the four-foot logs and things like that.
So I've taken. All of those and there's, there's probably two or three more sort of styles and mix that into my Pacwest style. So there's no one claim to fame. That's the deal breaker there again, I am a coach that has coached a lot of athletes over the years, and everybody has comes with different shapes and sizes and quite frankly, different mental capacities of discipline in terms of what they're willing to do to make either significant or subtle changes. And are they willing to put the hard work into that?
And so taking a little bit of those good pieces there and then morphing that into basically the Pacwest style of natural running. Does that help at all guys?
Kevin Chang: [00:21:28]
I think it helps, but I do want to get into what are some cues, because I guess going back to, you know, when I started running and I looked at minimalist shoes and I heard, Oh, you should be striking your forefoot. You should be striking on the, I think I ended up running on my tippy toes. Basically still out in front of my body.
I was not like catching myself in the run. I wasn't propelling myself forward. So I guess the worry for me is that a listener hears, Hey, you got to land on your forefoot and they start still, you know, with their body weight back or so what are maybe some of the cues?
Jay Ridgeway: [00:22:01]
I think I can some let be effective on audio-wise. So there's your body mass, right? Your body mass is your head down to what I would identify to your ankle. Separate. Foot as the landing point to it. So that's your sort of your foundational piece, but the body mass position is so crucial in the style that I do.
And, and basically the effectiveness of making sure that proper body posture is probably the hardest part. To be honest with you then now that we think about it in terms of trying to train, one of my athletes, how to. Maintain that proper body posture is so key to, effectively putting the body mass position in the right position when, when running forward.
So to your point, Kevin, there is a, a forward lean, not from the hip, but from the ankle that I'm looking for. Another key cue to think about is that those of you guys that. Know how to ride a bike and know the, the importance of making sure you're properly fitted to that bike. So again, I come from the endurance world on the multi-sport side.
So biking is a key component. And if anything, it's, it's usually probably the longer duration, especially when you get into Ironman. When you're biking for 112 miles. You're out there for a long time. So proper fit to that bike is important. Take that perspective of when you're biking and you're rotating each pedal stroke.
What is that leg position? Right. Do you know, is your knee ever locked out when you're riding your bike? Just ask a question to you guys. Never is.
If you take that reality and you apply that into running, I would never want my athletes to lock their knees. And that's typically what happens when you heel strike is you lock out your knees and you have a straight leg from your hip to your ankle is how you heel strike.
And so in the ideal world of running efficiently, effectively, and naturally is that there's never a lock-knee, you're always in that down position, just like you're biking. So when you're biking, proper farm, as you push down on the pedal, and then as you're coming to the bottom of that rotation, you begin to pull to engaging your quad and then your hamstring, right? So your push pull and then the momentum allows you to then have the opposite leg, be in the proper position to begin to push-pull, and then it goes into rotation, right?
It is a very similar biomechanical structure of what I want on the running side. So no knee locking knee is always an advent position and you're pushing down. With that forefoot or midfoot again, I'll take a midfoot over forefoot any day to help with getting you in the proper form.
So in order to do that, you must have that body mass position in a four position, because if you lean that body mass back, that allows that extension of the, in the rotation of the leg from the hip out, it allows that bottom foot ankle calf to rotate, it extend out into that locking knee position because that body masse is back.
If that body masse is forward, and you guys can try this, stepping away that body mass is for, there's no way that you can fully extend your leg out. There's just no way. So that is a fundamental piece of what I try to train is how do you maintain that four body mass position from head down to ankle, not head to hip.
Most people make the mistake of like, Oh, I've got to lean forward. They bend at the hip, they're throwing their chest forward. And guess what, if you do that position for a marathon for 26.2 miles with my friend here, coach B has done 55 marathons. So those of you that are not aware, which is amazing. Your back is going to be hurting.
So I'll have athletes that have done a 20 mile, 22 mile long run, or the blue, the marathon and go and coach, you know, man, that was a really tough run or that was a tough marathon. And my back is killing me. What do you think I'm going to say? Well, it's because you're bending at the hip, right? So it is very, very hard for some athletes to understand the concept of where body mass position needs to be.
And, and that's, that's one of the fundamental pieces of what I try to train them. Does that help guys.
Bertrand Newson: [00:26:04]
That's great advice.
Kevin Chang: [00:26:06]
Can we get into, I guess, running form for shorter distances versus longer distances you had mentioned. I mean, is it different at all? Do you think about running differently or your form differently? If you're trying to go faster versus you're trying to go for a longer marathon.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:26:22]
Well, efficient running form is as the same across the board. The only difference is in terms of the shorter distance, if you're talking like, you know, on the track doing a mile or two in a 5k, or even for that matter of 10 K. So you begin in the endurance world, 10 Ks, a super short race for some people that is their marathon.
Right? So I'm being respectful to that. That said, you know, when you're doing a half marathon, marathon or ultra marathon, Right. You're not aggressive in your running. You're trying to be efficient as you possibly can for as long as you can, without having to stop.
And in an altar distance running there's typically you're not on a pancake flat course, right? You're typically in the mountains, you're in the Sierra Nevada's or somewhere that is undulating. Ups and downs, crossing rivers and streams and rocks and roots and all the other stuff that erosion that you need to deal with. And so that's a whole different other perspective of coaching, versus, you know, me trying to train my runners to run on hard road surfaces in the Bay area or on the track or whatever like that. I mean, again, there's complexities there, right?
That said the differences of, running a marathon to running a 5k is your lean. You, you know, how aggressive are you leaning forward to maintain a fast cadence? You know, I, if I'm going to run a, a 5k race, I'm hoping, you know, I'm an old man now, but I'm hoping I'm at, you know, a six, 10, maybe today, six 20 per mile pace, ideally a six minute per mile pace, right.
To be respectful and competitive in my age group.
Kevin Chang: [00:27:43]
Jay Ridgeway: [00:27:44]
Bertrand Newson: [00:27:45]
Jay Ridgeway: [00:27:46]
Yeah, that said, I am not doing that in a marathon. I'm a minute slower per mile or more, depending on my conditioning and my preparation for the race event that right there, hopefully people can understand from the audio standpoint of the differences between my efficient running form, but how do I differentiate that efficient running for them to be more competitive and more aggressive in the shorter distances?
That's my body mescaline.
###### Kevin Chang: [00:28:12]
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I think that you touched on something and maybe we should touch on this a little bit more, but cadence. Cadence, meaning steps per minute.
I think a lot of beginner runners haven't really thought about cadence, how quickly they should be turning their feet over. And you mentioned that, okay, the main difference between your 5k and your marathon, isn't the cadence, isn't the number of steps, but it's that forward lean.
So how, how far or the distance or this, you know, the length that you can go for that same cadence. So I guess, can you talk to us a little bit about cadence, which you might see from beginner runners and what people should be thinking about?
Jay Ridgeway: [00:29:04]
Kevin, thank you for bringing that up and keeping me on track here. Cadences is important, and then there's some things that are optimal cadence. And then there's cadence. That is the reality of who we are as athletes. Right. And so there's a fine line of what I want my athletes to achieve, but I'll give you the, sort of the story.
There are sports physiologists that have now for decades have been analyzing running forms at the highest level of competition sprint level, which is the Olympics track and field world championships level. What are athletes doing in terms of cadence? And form to endurance outfits. some of the top male and female marathon runners that we talked about earlier, there is a common denominator sprint let's use male athletes here, right?
Extremely muscular, strong, powerful runners that are sprinting at the highest level: Usain Bolt, right? Now, he is anomaly because he's so freaking tall and he's got long legs and he is a freak of nature, but he has a very high cadence and that cadence is typically 90 steps per minute. Okay.
Now he's doing it for short durations. He's doing a hundred meters or 200 meters, right? So he's not doing it for very long, but his cadence is about right at 90 steps per minute. That is the optimal cadence. Now what's fascinating by the sports village physiologists. And when I first got into coaching and really sort of attached myself to the proper running form and teaching that and becoming sort of a running form guru is that you apply that same cadence is also a common nominator in endurance.
So Joan Benoit, Samuelson. Do you guys know who John is?
Bertrand Newson: [00:30:35]
Yeah, 84 Olympics, gold medal.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:30:38]
1984 was the Olympics in Los Angeles someday. I'll hopefully I'll be back there again. I know they're trying to try to get that back there. That was the first ever women's Olympic marathon and , amazingly, it was won by an American woman. Basically from, new England, area Boston area.
And she came in there. She is short, petite, powerful, and a bad-ass let's just, and she still is about acid. She is one of my idols. She's an amazing, he's an amazing athlete. Well, you take it to Usain Bolt and you take gentlemen in Samson. Like they're totally different athletes, right? Male versus female, but there's one common denominator.
She also runs at a 90 steps per minute, cadence. And I'm talking about one foot, 180, if you want to count both feet. I mean, to get a break goes back and forth between that. But if you take one her right foot striking the ground is 90 steps for a minute when she's running a marathon. Well guess what that's what Hussein bolt is doing as well.
Right? So that is sometimes just kind of that, blowing people's minds away of like, you know, two totally different athletes, two totally different disciplines of running yet. They have a common denominator. So that, that said, I try to have my athletes work hard. I've had some success in my career and, you know, I can get to that nineties to permanence, but in a regular normal training capacity and even some racing capacity, I'm maybe a little bit below that I'm a little bit slower than that.
I'm at 87, 88 and you know what? That's okay. That's pretty damn good. And that's what I would tell my athletes. Now, if I'm watching portray and coach B running and I track his steps and he's down in the 77 70 eights. I'm going to pull him aside and say, listen, brother, we need to work on this a little bit because that's not efficient, right.
And as we know, coach B, you're not the petite joined banana Samuelson. You are carrying a bigger muscular structure. You're taller. So you have a lot more challenges in front of you. So my focus on you to be even more disciplined on doing your drills and getting you more efficient is even more important because of those physical traits that you have. Versus if I had a lighter, petite, or athlete male or female, they can get away with a lot more. It's not fair. But that's just reality. Right?
So, you know, especially you 55 marathons, if you're not running efficiently, you know, you would have gotten to the 55 marathons, right. You would have been broken down and you would have said, Hey, this is a miserable experience.
I've got too many injuries and it's like, this isn't worth it. I'm going to start playing tennis or doing something else. Right. But you've been able to successfully do that. And whether or not I've had a role in that, in the more recent terms or not.
Bertrand Newson: [00:33:08]
Candidly you have. And that actually how we met, we met at a expo at a race expo. I believe the 2014 or 15 San Jose rock and roll half marathon expo. I was on my way out. I saw a sign that said pacing, PAC West athletics. Pacers sticks. I think I was looking to actually was one week for the Chicago marathon though.
I was using the half marathon as a shakeout or a warmup, which had retrospect, probably honesty, but coach J yeah. True. True.
Kevin Chang: [00:33:45]
Bertrand Newson: [00:33:46]
The wonderful thing about him is that he was able to size me up very quickly through conversation. You knew I was running the half marathon, and then we quickly got on the subject of marathon within a week's period.
So he immediately card Bertrand. What's your nutrition game plan based on my size. But you know, at that time, probably six one. 200 plus pounds, probably two 10 at the time. And I really didn't have a structured game plan. So he gave me some fantastic takeaways in how many calories I should be consuming per hour, based on my body weight, which helped absolutely it helped.
And what pace zone and talking about negative split and not going out too aggressively within five minutes, I felt like I had a "aha" moment. And I was probably, and I probably had 10 marathons beneath my belt, but that five minutes of informative, well thought out time-tested information helped my running economy, a running journey for the rest of my running career up to this point.
So thank you so much, coach Jay, and that's the importance and the value of having. An expert in relation to fitness, specifically running because running economy is key. It helps improve your running experience. You'll have less downtime, not, you know, seeing the PT is as frequently or chronic repetitive running injuries because you optimize your running economy
And it's what everything that coach is talking about right now is simple. If you take the time to implement it. So thanks. Yeah, coach. I wouldn't be the runner that I am now without our paths crossing in 2015. So thank you. I salute you.
Kevin Chang: [00:35:26]
Jay Ridgeway: [00:35:27]
I mean, I, well, I mean, honestly, this guy was at the desk that we had, we had this double booth at Rockwell San Jose cause the pace team in the Pacwest West booth and I just couldn't get rid of the sky. I had to, I had to get rid of him. I had to tell him something.
Kevin Chang: [00:35:39]
And it's years
Jay Ridgeway: [00:35:40]
And then the guy is still here asking for knowledge.
Uh, yeah, no, no, no. In all seriousness. It's been a pleasure and my honor to be able to have had.
I remember that moment distinctly and having that conversation and take it. I mean, we had a busy booth that day. I mean, you know, rock and roll sounds, Jose, especially back then. I mean, it was eight, 16,000 runners combined with all the events there we had, our booth was rocking and I remember Patreon coming up and being genuine.
And I mean, I was impressed. His personality, character and, and sharing a story. And so we headed off and, and I'm very thankful that we've continued to nurture that relationship into what I consider very differential and an honor to be here and obviously like that. And it makes me feel good as a coach to be able to know that the, the nuggets of knowledge that I was able to share with you.
It has continued to, to apply as you as a, as a hugely successful endurance athlete. And so we can continue to do that combined together. The three of us on this with this audio recording and, and share that. I mean, that's just hugely warming to me, to the bottom of my heart. So.
Kevin Chang: [00:36:46]
Get back to a subject that you touched on briefly, and that is. You know, different body types, there might be different things that you would instruct people of different body types. And so maybe a lot of our audience might be a little bit on the overweight side or might be just getting into running.
Are there things running form wise that you would instruct them or, you know, is the cadence still going to be the same, even if you are overweight, are you still going to be doing a forward lean or are there other things that you might consider or think about.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:37:16]
Thank you Kevin, for bringing up that you took really good notes here. I mean, without a doubt, it's a case by case basis. And when I work with an athlete and I will tell you that I have many, many athletes that aren't, you know, they're challenged with their self. Just as of their body type. And I've had athletes that have been extremely successful with an atypical body type.
I mean, again, unfortunately in our world, you know, advertising and all that nature, you know, it's always the, sort of the pretty looking male and female athletes that are on the print covers and things of that. But that's not reality. And that's one of the things that why I'm in coaching is that those are the w the one percenters, right? As we use that terminology, those are the one percenters and Bertrand knows this as well. Timmy, he's got a huge following and, active athlete basin to legit.
And I would say, you know, in all due respect, there are some people that if they were to come to me and say, Hey, I want to qualify for the Boston marathon. Is really hard to do. I have been fortunate enough to qualify quite a few times, and I am very honored and respectful and sensitive to that. There are many people that have been trying to do that for years and have never been able to successfully qualify. They can get in if they want to fundraise for some of the causes there, but they're not officially qualifiers.
So having that conversation and I've had it many, many times, quite frankly, it's probably partly will have semiretired from coaching. Is that I've had to have the card conversation with them and saying, listen, I totally respect that. You want to qualify it and do the Boston marathon. But these are the things that you're going to have to do.
One of which is that you're carrying too much body weight. And that is a really hard conversation to have with an athlete. And again, being sensitive to between male personalities and female personalities. I'm a male coach. That's partly why I love having my daughter here because she has the female perspective of that.
That is a hard conversation to have male and or female of like, here are the things that you need to do if you're willing to do those things, which will take time, we get we're on the right path. But if you're not able to do that, that aspiration and North star goal of being able to qualify and do Boston marathon is going to continue to be a North star event for you.
Does that make sense, guys?
Kevin Chang: [00:39:22]
For those athletes that are overweight, but not looking to qualify for Boston, not really looking for speed. I still know that form is important for both efficiency, for injury prevention, for, you know, a number of other things. Are you teaching the same techniques?
Jay Ridgeway: [00:39:39]
Yes, I am. I try to, and I appreciate you circling back around. So there's two points that I wanted to make there. So for those athletes that are trying to create sort of a better experience athletically for themselves, the idea is to still continue to teach them and train them the basic fundamentals of proper efficient form.
As like I said to coach, be fundamentally for people that are in that situation is absolutely crucial because if they don't learn those basic fundamentals of efficiency, they're the ones that are going to be hurting the next day and are not going to be working out or two days or three days or at a, get a point where they're mentee.
This is not worth it. I don't want to do this anymore. This hurts too much. It's just not fun. So yes, I am training them with the same fundamental pieces that said I have to be creative as an endurance coach say, okay. Because of this situation that that athlete is in, we have to be creative on how to implement their actual structured workouts.
So we've talked about a run walk sequence, right? So I've had athletes that have come to me and said, Hey, I've raised funds for the lymphoma society for team and training. I've raised $5,000. I've got, you know, a thousand family members and friends that have contributed money. I have to do this race coach, but I'm not physically able to run this whole thing.
Okay, not a problem. Let's look at having you run for certain sequence of time, three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, and then go into a walk sequence to recover, allowing that person to achieve the goal of crossing that finish line. Those are some of the unique situations that I have to do on a case by case basis with some of the athletes.
It could be someone who is lean and mean, but they're just there stained an injury and they still want to do the event because of some other driving force behind it in an ideal world, I say, Hey, you're injured. I don't want you to racing, but if there's other, there are other driving factors in that. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but those are some of the examples that I do as an insurance coach to overcome some of the challenges that they have to give them the best experience and the most success.
I mean, ultimately as a coach, I want my athletes to get to the start line as physically and mentally healthy as they can. And then cross that finish line. But life isn't fair. Sometimes there's usually something that they have to overcome and that's okay. And that's quite frankly, that's endurance sports.
Kevin Chang: [00:41:53]
I also wanted to get into maybe some more or advanced techniques or things that you see, people who have been running for a while, things that they might have forgotten or, things that you can tweak or the small tweaks. I know. We haven't really gotten to upper body form. And that's maybe something that I had questions on was okay, where should the upper body be?
I know we should be relaxing. The shoulders. We should be having our gaze, maybe 30 feet down the road and or at the horizon, not looking at our feet. What's proper form for upper body and the arms and. We've just recently been testing or I've been testing out these egg weights from Bree Lamber and they've made me more conscious about, okay, where, where should my hands be going?
They should probably be driving with the same cadence, but I don't know any tips on upper body and arms and arms swing.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:42:41]
of tips for that. And I was, like I said before in the beginning, there's a, there is a full body, sequence for efficient running. I'll give you a good example.
I had a female young female athlete. I think it was a, she was a college student at Berkeley. She attended some of my track workouts with the team and, quite frankly, we lost track over a period of time, but she was challenged because for whatever reason, she was thinking that her running form with her arms needed to be out in front, almost like, in the movies of the zombies, right, with their arms out straight out.
She was literally running almost to that extent. And I was like, Oh, Whoa. I mean, again, I've been through the ringer as a coach with all the different shapes and sizes and forms and stuff like that, that I've had to try to work on, but she was literally running with our armed not rotating at all.
And, it took a long time for me to break her of that habit to sort of dive into her brain, to help get, get her, to realize what she was doing. And then eventually what I ended up doing is just taking my smartphone and videotaping her to show because she just couldn't visualize it.
So it gives you the extent of how everybody ran. Right. So that gives you a good sort of audio of like, okay. not everybody gets it. And sometimes visual, why I physically want to see my athletes and now it's more of a digital world versus face-to-face, but I had to record her and show her what she was doing, and then she eventually broke that the habit of hers.
But what was causing that was that, you know, if we were able to unscrew our arms and put it on a scale they're heavy. Right. So that imbalance was causing her to not only. How'd that imbalance Ford. It's not the body mass that I was talking about, it's the arm weight, not the full body mass of what I want for it, but she was also causing you to bend at her hips.
So her efficiency was completely off. It has extremely inefficient as you possibly to get billing, that would make it worse as if she was swinging her arms side to side. Right. So we had to work on that.
Interestingly enough, part of that experience, I ended up implementing into my workouts with my athletes at track workouts, the importance of how arms need to be in sync with the legs. So I actually, I have my athletes periodically do the, exactly what she was doing, which is a zombie run.
We would start at the time start line, got the track, and I would put a cone down about 20 meters out. Okay. You guys have to run with your arms straight out or out in front of you. For those 20 meters. And I wouldn't say anything else from that, I would say, okay, you guys ready? I have to stop, watch. Okay.
And once you get to the cone, then I want you to re implement your arms into your running form, and then I'll meet you all the way around for the 400 meter drill. I go ready, three, two, one, go. And they'd go out there and there'd be all of them laughing and bitching during that whole time. 20 minutes. And then all of a sudden they get their arms back. Then they would take off like take off super fast and then they come around and say, "Hey, how'd that go?" All that sucked coach.
Oh, it was terrible. Uh, why did you make us do that type of deal? And I go, well, how'd you feel once you got your arms back and said, Oh, it was amazing. I felt like I was, you know, running on air and running with the wind. So it just that drill right there, identifies how important the whole body needs to be in sync with each other.
And I'll give you an idea of when you guys ended up doing that and pretend maybe you could try that with one of your, your coach workouts.
Bertrand Newson: [00:45:48]
I'm taking notes right now, coach.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:45:50]
One of the things that is a by-product of one of the inefficiency of the running and two it actually spikes your heart when you do that, your heart rate goes up.
So if you can imagine your, your arms alone, if they're not in sync, you're spiking your heart rate. And then think about if you're doing that for a half marathon, marathon or 10 K 5k, doesn't matter, you are inadvertently spiking your heart rate unnecessarily because your body's not running efficiently.
Does that, does that make sense, gentlemen?
So second thing that I try to do with my athletes is, again, not proper body form is that I want, I don't want them running with the country fist, but I want them with sort of a cupping. Right. You know, so the whole, a karate kid, if you guys are dated and you know, you guys aren't, you know, Bertrand and I are kind of we're similar in age here.
So the karate kid where the swipes, the fly with his hand and he catches the fly in there. And, you know, he has it in his hand there, the quick reflexes there, it's kind of like that you don't want to have a clenched fist, like you're going to punch somebody, but you want to have it just nice and comfortable.
But one of the things that I try to do is like, have your thumb on the outside of that hand. Again, we're not sprinting, so you're not doing an open hand. Like you're cutting through the air. We're during South dates, right? Whether we're doing five Ks or 10 Ks, wherever like that. But the idea is that I want that thumb, the tip of the thumb available.
So when you, you, as a runner are running, I want that thumb to brush over your hip. So if your right arm is rotating back and forth, I want that thumb the hip. And the reason for that is that I want that elbow to drive all the way back.
So like a pendulum of an old style clock. I know we're in 2020 and kids today have no idea what that is, right? Right? But in the old school days, there's a pendulum clock that swings back and forth, right. That natural point of momentum of no return, and then it swings back.
So the same concept is held true in the running form that I try to teach where one, your shoulders are down and relaxed and they're back. They're not forward. There's a tendency for people that have kind of lurched forward. Cause they're bad posture because we're all working on computers these days. Right. Drives me nuts. I'm victim to that. Right.
You want their shoulders back. So that, that rotation is naturally going forward position. And then back position, if your shoulders are rotated for, because you're keying on your keyboard, guess what your arm rotation is actually going to cross your body, right?
So shoulders back to where your arms are naturally pendulum swinging forward and backwards. Now, natural position of your hand, and your forearm needs to be bent at the elbow. Ideally, a 90 degree angle if your arms are down. And I tried this years ago, did a long training run. I want to say it was a 10, 12 mile training run. I said, well, what the heck?
The reason being is , amazing American runner, hugely successful, collegiate runner at Stanford. Went on to do amazing things in the marathon. Gentlemen named Ryan Hall. Does everybody know who Ryan Hollis? Okay.
Kevin Chang: [00:48:28]
I was just watching a documentary
Jay Ridgeway: [00:48:29]
So Ryan Hall. Running form with his arms drove me bonkers.
His arms are down, his hands are down. Right. And I tried that one time where I had my arms down and then at the elbow. So they were not locked in 90 degree position. I got done with that run for days, multiple days, my biceps were screaming because of the weight of the arm. And the hand still was significant enough to where my biceps were having to be engaged in working for that.
How Ryan Hall has been so successful over the years. being as fast as he is, because he's so fast. He's done so well, at least. So that's probably why his biceps weren't aching. That's not follow Ryan Hall's path to endurance riding, right?
Bertrand Newson: [00:49:06]
Fast wife, though. Very fast wife.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:49:09]
Yeah, his wife is amazing. Probably probably more talented he was. But, that said, we know the gentleman we're talking about and people can Google this guy, but I got done with that and I realized, Oh man, the importance of my arm position. Right. And getting it into a cup lock position at hat elbow, less engages the biceps and triceps, which is smart.
Right. So. If you add that extra sort of visual line from the shoulder down to the tips of your fingers, you create that little triangle there piece, right? And that pendulum swings from the shoulder back and forth in the key to that, with that thumb touch at that hip, it drives that elbow Ali back into that natural point of no return to where that natural swing comes back forward.
That is what I'm looking for. Fundamentally, when I'm training somebody about proper running form with your arm positions, hands are relaxed. Shoulders are down and relaxed cause we're all tense, right? If you, if someone is like super stressed out and tense, I say, okay, breathe in and out. There's like a yoga instructor would be, and let those shoulders drop.
And I want you to do that three times or four times. And I will do that myself in the middle of before the start of a marathon when there's again, non pandemic world. Right. And we're all clustered in together. There's hundreds, if not thousands of people, a cluster, and waiting for that gun to go off and I will do a couple of therapeutic sort of mental close my eyes, breathe in and out.
Let my shoulders down because I want a good. Comfortable relaxed body position. Right? I don't want my body relaxed, ready to go into what will be a hard meal, three hour run or whatever. Right? So shoulders down, shoulders back, and then rotating the touch and the thumb over the help helps you confirm that you're getting that pendulum swing rotation in the most efficient manner.
If you're not touching that thumb at your hip, that means your arms are forward in that inefficiency. Is there.
Bertrand Newson: [00:50:53]
The timing of this conversation could not be better as Kevin knows. I was supposed to do the New York marathon next month. But as you know, we all know we're in the midst of the pandemic. So they pivoted to a virtual event. I'm running that virtual. Marathon tomorrow. So. grazing the hips, relaxing the shoulders, good hydration nutrition strategy that you taught me five plus years ago, coach. And we'll be, taking the journey to, you know, marathon number 56, God willing.
So I feel more prepared now and getting all these fantastic reminders. the importance of cadence. The importance of leaning, not from the hip, but from the ankles, head to toe, the importance of warming up pre-workout yep. Fantastic takeaways.
Kevin Chang: [00:51:40]
Yeah, this has been fan tastic, and I know that we're coming up and we want to be respectful of your time. I think that this is just the first of many. Many many conversations, because again, we'd love to get into nutrition strategy. We'd love to get into different race day strategies and you have so many, and you have so many stories that we absolutely want to get into. Yeah, I guess we probably don't have enough time to get into them right now, but
Bertrand Newson: [00:52:08]
Good to have you back, coach God, have you back.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:52:12]
Uh, yeah. And, hopefully I've was of some value to some of the listeners here and they can take away some of the nuggets here and obviously available resource. You know, if there's any questions that come out of this, you guys know how to get ahold of me. I'm happy to answer those as best I can, but yeah, I'm here for you guys, so excited to be here, honored to be here.
And again, hopefully I've provided some value today.
Kevin Chang: [00:52:33]
So where can people find you online? Where's the best place to find Pacwest endurance.
Jay Ridgeway: [00:52:38]
The regional name is Bertrand had said what specific West athletics we've we fundamentally a couple of years ago changed it to, to be more specific to understand what we do. It's it's now Pacwest endurance. So if you just sit for the LPAC WST, endurance. All one word.com. You'll see the website there.
You'll see all the different breasts of services provide the running form analysis by mechanical analysis is in there. Obviously I mentioned that we also do the swim analysis and the bike fit analysis and things like that. But the running form is in there as well as all of the personal coaching and things of that nature.
So yeah. Check it out. We're excited. We didn't talk about this. I was a Bay area, native San Jose. but I recently made a, the relocation with my wife and now I have a new soon, soon to be in a few days, a eight month old daughter. So I'm, I was not trying to rush in having my children. I decided to space them out almost 27 years apart, just short of one month.
So Emily is now the acting president of Pacwest endurance. I'm still playing a role as head coach and letting her boss me around these days, but I'm still an available resource. And I'm now in Reno. Nevada is my point. So hoping to have a lot of, um, former, uh, and, and so well active Pacwest that endurance athletes that have made the Trek out to the Reno Tahoe area, Truckee incline village in here in Reno.
So you guys are welcome to come on out anytime to come get your guys's butt kicked along with mine, climbing up and down this year in Nevadas. Yeah. So we, we have a strong presence in the Bay area. I have athletes all over the country, all over the world, over the years of, you know, going on 19 years with the founding of Pacwest next year.
So it's been a great ride and people are able to just simply go to Pacwest insurance.com and find out what we're done.
Kevin Chang: [00:54:15]
Thank you again so much, Jay, for being on this podcast, can't tell you how much we've learned throughout the whole hour. So many nuggets, so many takeaways.
Well, I hope enjoyed this episode of the race mob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy [email protected]. Please subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time. Keep on moving.