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3 Reasons Why You Should Be Running Backwards

As athletes, you are most often focused on moving forward as fast as possible when running. However, incorporating backward running into your workouts can offer a range of benefits that help improve our overall running performance. I know it might seem a bit awkward, and trust me, it is, but hear me out and I will explain.

Here are three reasons why you should consider practicing running backwards during your track workouts:

1. Mid Foot Strike: Running backwards requires a shift in balance and technique, which can encourage you to land on your mid-foot or fore foot rather than your heels. This change in foot strike can help reduce the risk of injury to the joints and improve overall running efficiency.

2. Opposing Muscle Engagement: Backward running engages different muscles in the legs including glutes and upper hamstrings, which may not be as active during forward running. This can lead to more balanced muscle development and improved overall strength.

3. Knee Health: Running backwards forces you to get up on your toes (or mid foot) and can be kinder on the knees than forward running, as it places less stress on the joints. This makes it a great option for athletes who are recovering from knee injuries or looking to prevent knee pain in the future.

So how can you incorporate backward running into your track workouts? One option is to simply run backwards for short intervals such as during warm-up or cool-down periods. Another option is to incorporate backwards running drills into your speedwork training. For example, do 1X400 forwards then 1X400 backwards, etc. I’ve also come across some workouts with backward hill repeats. These are a great way to build cardiovascular fitness without taxing the knees too much. For those of you who prefer to train indoors, backward running can be done on a treadmill while holding onto the rails for balance.

In summary, adding backward running to your track workouts can offer several of benefits, including improved mid-foot strike, more balanced muscle engagement, and reduced stress on the knees. So why not switch things up and give it a try?

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next iron distance event? Click the purple box below and fill out your information so we can chat about your race goals!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling Coach

ACSM Trainer


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