Running Form Video: The Principles of Natural Running by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

It’s been awhile since I’ve had an opportunity to post (Disney Vacation with the family, and final book editing rolled into one incredibly busy few weeks!), so I thought I’d get the blog back in gear by sharing a video put together by my good friend Mark Cucuzzella. Mark won the Air Force Marathon last year at age 44 in a time of 2:38, and runs a significant number of his miles barefoot – in the video he shares his thoughts on what he feels are the “Principles of Natural Running.”

Let us know what you think – does Mark hit on all of the key elements of good form?

Video via The Natural Running Center.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Rob Savarese says:

    Meant this comment in Reply to Pete’s comment about speed and leg kick, not sure why it ended up here: “Agreed, you can’t get that kind of kick on a slow jog. In one section of the video it showed him at a 6 min/mile pace.”

  2. Thanks so much for this video. I am new to barefoot/minimalist running and trying to watch as many videos on form as I can right now.  This video was very informative.  I can’t wait to try the techniques featured. 
    P.S.  I was so excited to see you teach at St. A’s.  My dad grew up in Goffstown, NH and much of my extended family still lives in the Manchester area :)

  3. Thanks Dr. Larson! The man is amazing, running that hard on Asphalt, he must have 1/4″ Callouses on his feet.

    One observation: 

    Dr. C often says he follows ‘Chirunning’ methods; in Chirunning, Danny Dryers talks about lifting ones feet with the HipFlexors(Psoas etc.) and not the quads; bigger muscles, easier work. less fatigue  etc..(he calls it ‘picking up ones feet’).In the video Dr. C, seems to me, I could be wrong, using his quads more than his Psoas, for lifting. Anybody see that or differently?! 

  4. Rob Savarese says:

    That’s probably the best, most concise explanation of proper running technique I’ve seen. Thanks for sharing this Pete.

  5. Frederic says:

    Thanks for sharing Pete!!

  6. This is an exemplary running form that I try hard to achieve. The one thing that I still struggle to do is how Dr. Cucuzzella kicks so high behind him after each stride.

  7. nathan118 says:

    Awesome video. I went on my run today and immediately tried running in place…getting that spring, and then leaning…and off I went.

    An interesting observation though. In all my previous miles of “natural” running…I usually cruised at a 10:30 min/mile pace. But using this form…my natural cruising time went to 8:30 min/mile. It felt great…I’d say better than my usual 10:30….but boy did it wear me out fast.

    Interested to hear from more experienced runners (my max ever is 6 miles, 34 total in one month)…do longer miles at that faster of a pace eventually just come to you? Sort of wondering what’s in store for me if really push the envelope on this natural running form. I love it… just a lot faster!

  8.  
    thanks Pete for posting and i am glad this is bringing out some important questions.  just as background this video is about “principles” and not a specific method…so how one applies these principles and how it looks is different from another.  so do not try to imitate anyone’s form, just understand the right principles.  i have many flaws…i’m 45 and have been beat up along the way and do not have time in the day to really do all the supplemental work to keep the body optimally aligned.  we all do the best we can.

    On the foot being picked up….this happens reflexively and not actively. The motion is more of a spring like the pogo-stick in the end of the video or as in the trampoline running drill.  Put foot down in right place under COM ( a little active here and at fast pace quite a bit active) ….let it go once set to motion . opposite reaction is pop off the ground.  try it.  do the trampoline drill and try to lift your heel.  have someone gently place their hands on your shoulders while you run into them….then they step away.  bingo….correct force vector!”  at really slow speeds there is little pop and little heel lift..watch Kenyans warm up compared to when they are running. big difference.  think as if you are holding a hinge from the top.  Swing it fast and then slow.  Spring folds when fast like the lower leg does.
     
    on the psoas/iliacus- the action there is stretch-shortening.  power and pop is from the glutes.  The more power and pop and faster you go. This is not “power running” but relaxed efficient running.  Watch Lagat, Mo Farah, or any of the East Africans.
     
    Pete mentioned one thing too that is true, but with this being a “principles” video did not dissect this.  at faster speeds the cadence is a bit higher as the stride is a bit active…but you are just optimizing the elasticity and leg down/knee drive forward/pop off ground all a bit quicker.
    hope this makes sense…now just go have fun on your run!
    Dr. Mark Cucuzzella
    tworiverstreads.com

     
     

    • Thanks for taking the time Dr. C; I guess I better get my glutes nice and strong to get that ‘pop’. I will look for a tech note on ‘stretch-shortening’, if I can find one.

      I often watch this woman’s(Dibaba) ~2minute video for some serious ‘hinge’ action:

      link to youtube.com

    • kamilothoris says:

       As much as I loved watching the video, what I really need is someone explaining and demonstrating the intricacies of natural good form when the pace is slow. And I mean slooooow because I am slow and the only times I can use the advice in the video is during my tempo and interval runs.

      • Pete Larson says:

        In my experience, the best approach is to feel it. Run barefoot a bit or in shoes without cushion and your body will start to get it. A lot of this stuff is very hard to do consciously – I really had to feel through it by running in Vibrams and doing speedwork on the track in flats. One approach that can also help is to film yourself with a digital camera – it can help to have a mental image of your form that you can refer back to and compare to down the road to see if anything has changed. Have fun with it and be gradual and it will come with time.

        • kamilothoris says:

          Thanks, Pete. I have been running with zero drop light shoes for a while now so I have great incentive to have high cadence and for my feet not to stay on the ground too long as I turn over. But lifting my heels that high towards my butt or extending the hip as shown only happens once a week, if that because the cardiovascular system will simply not allow me to go there on easy or even moderate runs (or they are no longer easy or moderate). I would very much like for this to change in the future but as an older runner who started late I am still a plodder not a flyer.

          • For what its worth, Doc C. has another video of BF running here:

            http://naturalrunningcenter.co

            slower, especially when he/they are running up the slight hilly parts.

          • Pete Larson says:

            Yes, no need to worry too much about the butt kick or serious hip extension unless you are running fast. Would be helpful to see the same video of someone running at a slower pace.

  9. This is good.  Makes me consider changing/working on my form even though I just run for fun and have always had weak hamstrings and buttocks.

  10. Thanks so much Peter and Dr. C!  You have both been so inspirational and helpful in my efforts to move toward a more natural running style.  Like Dr. C, I am in my 40′s.  Just last year, I returned to regular running and racing after a 15-year hiatus and was almost immediately injured (calf).  Very frustrating after having run big mileage with no problems at all in my younger years. Thanks largely to finding RunBlogger, the Natural Running Center and reading Born To Run, about 8 months ago I made the decision to actively focus on my form and move toward a more natural style. I have proceeded cautiously and now run in nothing higher than a 4mm heel drop shoe.  I received this video yesterday through the Natural Running Center email list and watched it repeatedly.  Thank you Dr. C!  What an enlightening and helpful summary of key principles.  I couldn’t wait to get outside last night and try things out.  I have a ways to go yet, but I cannot thank both of you enough for being such great educators!  

  11. Shelly Latsha says:

    I love watching Dr. Cucuzzella run.  I have his running style playing in my head while I run and attempt to emulate his form.  Like Kevin, I struggle with the rear high kick.  Any ideas Pete on how to develop this kick?

    Thanks for sharing the exceptional video.  I’ll be watching it numerous times.

    • Pete Larson says:

      The height of the kick is mostly related to speed – not sure how fast he is running here, but I suspect it’s pretty quick.

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