Section 1 - Start Here
The Running Process
THE RUNNING PROCESS
The Running Process consists of three main phases:
- the Push Phase
- the Swing Phase and
- the Pull Phase.
These three phases constitute a complete leg sequence for each leg during the entire time one is running. For example, the right leg will sequence as follows:
Push phase > Swing Phase > Pull Phase > Push Phase > Swing Phase > Pull Phase etc.
The left leg follows a similar pattern however, the phases of running for the left leg are not in synch with the phases of running for the right leg.
The Push Phase.
The push phase is perhaps the most popular of the three phases since it is typically associated with the start of a race however, like the other two phases, it is involved throughout the entire time one is running. It begins when the thigh of the foot touching the ground is perpendicular to the ground, and ends when the toes of this same foot are barely touching the ground behind you.
Figures 1-4a, 1-4b, 1-4c and 1-4d show the stages of the push phase shortly after the start of a race for the right leg. See below:
The muscles involved in the push phase are the knee extensors, hip extensors and the ankle plantar-flexors.
The Swing Phase
The swing phase begins when the toes of the foot that finished the push phase have just left the ground behind you and ends when this same foot strikes the ground in front of you. The distance covered by the swing phase is what many people refer to as their stride. Training to improve your stride is not very difficult however, it is perhaps one of the greatest oversights athletes make. Improving this phase of running can make a big difference in your running speed.
Figures 1-5a, 1-5b, 1-5c and 1-5d below show the basic stages of the swing phase for the right leg:
The muscles involved in the swing phase are the hip flexors, knee flexors and knee extensors.
The Pull Phase
The pull phase begins once the foot strikes the ground in front of you and your thigh is still flexed, and ends when the knee and thigh of the same foot are perpendicular to the ground directly beneath you. This is the shortest of all the phases and it too is often overlooked by a lot of athletes. Improving this phase of running can also make a big difference in your running speed.
Figures 1-6a, 1-6b, 1-6c and 1-6d below show the basic stages of the pull phase for the right leg:
The primary muscle groups involved in the pull phase are the hip extensors and to a lesser extent, the knee flexors. Note: the knee flexors (hamstring muscles) have two functions: 1) hip extension and 2) knee flexion.
This completes the basic motions of the three phases of running. Many athletes have different styles of running that best suits their needs however, the muscles involved all remain the same.