The following conditions are true:
- Running easy, the style is fine, even whilst talking or day dreaming!
- Running at up to 5k race pace, either in training or whilst racing, is fine.
- Running faster than that (800m pace), in training, is fine.
- Running 800m pace, whilst racing, is *not* fine!
In other words, I can't race at those fast speeds (sub 3:00/km 4:45/mile), think about gait style, and the race tactics, at the same time (I never could multi-task).
Or, to put it another way, good style is not yet subconscious at those faster speeds.
When you race 800m, you are full-on concentration the entire time. If your mind wanders for just one second, your competitors will have gained one or 2 meters, and your race is lost (you will expend too much energy accelerating to close that gap).
How do I know that my style suffers in 800m race conditions?
At the recent 2017 British Masters Indoor T&F National Championships 800m final, I was fortunate to have both still and moving images captured. The remains of the over stride are clear to see (although I did get a number of compliments about looking stronger in the core - less bend at the waist).
I was doubly fortunate that Mr. Bateman watched and commented on what he saw!
"1. Quite a sink and twist on landing 2. the arm across the chest (both sides) 3 the back foot sole facing the ceiling. I find that if the back foot is stretched out then the front foot is landing too far ahead. Solution. Try keeping the back foot dorsi-flexed as it comes off the ground - this seems to 'shorten the wheel base' and create a better-aligned landing which in turn returns more elastic energy and increases the stride length. Summary: have an experiment with dorsi-flexing your back foot on take-off."
(Thank you Keith, as always)
So as we approach the summer track & field season, I'm looking forward to really concentrating on the gait at high speeds. There's plenty in the book about this, and I shall be hitting the "Keith's Game Changer" drill a lot, whilst concentrating on the dorsi-flexion.
Finally, and for the third or 4th time, I refer back to the chart below. I've ticked off that "5k pace" milestone. And the "race pace" milestone is also there, but not subconscious yet. This is my next aim!