RUNNING ANALYSIS: Winning the 1500m in the Olympics

RUNNING ANALYSIS: Winning the 1500m in the Olympics


Hey guys, its Dr. JP and today we are going
to analyze the running form of an Olympic champion: Matthew Centrowitz. A bunch of you have kept requesting me to
make an analysis on him, so here it is! For those who dont really know who he is… Matthew Centrowitz is an elite middle distance
runner, most notably known for winning the gold medal in the 1500m race during Rio 2016
Olympics. In this video, we will be looking at how he
ran this race and take a closer look at his running form. Hopefully, this video will provide some useful
information to improve the way you run, especially for those already starting their outdoor track
season! Now, lets get into the analysis! As we always do… we will start with how
the race was ran, which was pretty interesting. Matthew Centrowitz won the Olympic gold with
a time of 3:50.00, which is slowest winning time in the 1500m since 1932. I mean, Centrowitz has been able to run way
faster than this, but the overall focus of this race wasnt having the fastest time, but
rather winning it. This is why this race has been considered
pretty tactical. Lets start by going over the time splits. The first lap was ran in 66.83 seconds. For Olympic standards, completing a 400m lap
in this time is pretty slow. Then, if that wasnt surprising enough, the
second lap was even slower at 69.76 seconds. In the end, this caused the last stretch of
the race to become a sprint, where Centrowitz finished the final lap in 50.62 seconds. Now, why did this end up happening? Basically, Centrowitz was able to control
the pace of the race and this played to his strengths. To put it simply, he held the lead position
and slowed down the pace for the majority of the race. The race then became a matter of who had the
strongest kick, which is what Centrowitz is known for. This ultimately gave him the advantage. Despite not being the world leader coming
into this race, Centrowitz was able to execute this plan perfectly, which not only got him
on the podium, but also won him the Olympic gold medal, which is an incredible accomplishment! Now, that we covered that, lets take a look
at his running technique . The clip we will be analyzing is his final
kick during that last 100m stretch. This is definitely a great clip to analyze
as this kick was essential to him winning; however, it would have been more interesting
to take a look at his form during an earlier part of the race, so we can see the changes
of his form as he builds up speed. Unfortunately, the final 100m was the only
part of the race where we can get a good look at his form. Anyway, what we will be looking at first is
overall components of speed, which are stride frequency and stride length. During his kick, he presents with a cadence
of 220 steps per minute. This is incredible fast and is a cadence typically
seen more in a 400m race. Then, based off a few calculations, his step
length around this specific part of the race is around 2.20 meters. Again, this is a high value that would not
be seen in a typical 1500m race as this analysis was only based off a final stretch of the
1500m race and is not a average value taken for the whole race. This does; however, emphasize how strong Matthew
Centrowitz’s kick is! Now, lets dig a little deeper and look at
specific aspects of Matthew Centrowitz running during that final stretch! As we always do, lets start with the foot
landing. Here he presents with midfoot landing. This kind of landing is nothing unusual and
a landing pretty typical among elite runners during this kind of pace. What I’m usually always more interested in
is where the foot lands relative to the body. I know this isnt a perfect side view, but
these markers will give a general idea of foot landing relative to his center of mass. Actually, these markers would be closer together
in a true side view than what it seems from this frame due to the camera angle. What this is telling us is that the emphasis
of his form at this time is more about speed than efficiency as his foot lands just slightly
in front of his body’s center of mass. So while he sacrifices some efficiency for
landing in this manner, this allows for Centrowitz to go through the running cycle more quickly,
leading to faster speeds. This makes perfect sense as this is during
Centrowitz’s final kick to the finish line where the intent is to finish as soon as possible
no matter the cost. Next we will look at the range of foot movement
from when his foot first touches the ground to when he pushes off. I placed markers to see this more clearly. Instead of looking at the feet in this frame,
I tend to look at the hips as force production from the hips is very important, especially
during faster paces. As you can see by positioning of the hips
during the push off phase, he does a good job of utilizing and really maximizing power
production from each stride he makes. Now, we will look at vertical oscillation,
which is basically the amount of bounce he has as he runs. You typically dont want to see too much of
this as this could put increased stress on the joints and decrease efficiency as you
run. And during this clip, you can see that there
is no much of it going on. Its no surprise here as this is minimized
by the good usage of his hips for power as I mentioned earlier as well as the high cadence
he is producing at this moment. As I mentioned in previous videos, the higher
the step rate, usually the lower the vertical bounce that is seen. Next, lets look at this frame right before
he is pushing off. I take a look at this when looking at trunk
posture because there is a lot of force being released from the legs at this point and if
the trunk and core isnt adequately stabilized at this point, there could be energy leakage,
leading to decreased force generation, which leads to decreased step length, and ultimately
decreased speed. Now, in this position, you can see he does
properly stabilize the trunk. It may seem like he is excessively arching
the back, but that might be more because of the camera angle. Staying on this frame, you can also see that
he has a slight forward body tilt of the whole body. Again, this tilt angle might seem a little
less than it actually is due to the camera angle. This slight forward body tilt aids in better
utilization of the hip extensors as well as increased momentum forward. Now, lets move on to the arm swing, specifically
shoulder movement. I placed markers here to see the range of
his shoulders moving as he runs. This is actually a pretty decent range of
movement appropriate for the pace he is going. It is good to have enough range because the
arm swing helps counteract angular forces coming from the legs, so the body can stay
stabilized and maintain a straight path when running toward the finish line. Now, usually I would also take a look at the
front view of the body as he runs as this gives us essential data as well; however,
I couldnt find good frontal view footage during this race. Finally, we will look at the head. Looking from this side view, you can see he
keeps his head pretty much maintained in a neutral position. You dont see it bogging back and forth. This is important as the whole body is linked
together. Keeping the head in a relatively stabilized
position also helps stabilize the core/trunk, which in turn optimizes force output from
the legs. If the core/trunk were not properly stabilized,
excessive movement would occur around the pelvis instead, leading to energy leakage
and therefore, diminished force production. And that is for the quick analysis on Matthew
Centrowitz! I hope you guys enjoyed the video! If you did, I would love if you shared it
with your friends as well! Oh and next week, I will be doing something
a little different. You guys have been asking me to make an analysis
based on a non professional runner, so I will be making another analysis based on footage
I received from one of my followers! I hope you guys will look forward to that
one! And as always, THANK YOU FOR WATCHING!

8 Replies to “RUNNING ANALYSIS: Winning the 1500m in the Olympics”

  1. does it look like Centro has a low center of gravity? other runners look like they are leaping. he looks like he's gliding

  2. This is a really late comment, but when it comes to running 1mile, 2 mile, and even 3, must I be running on my toes? I know when it comes to sprinting it should always be on your toes, but what about “jogging”? I am trying to better my run times by fixing my technique and when I run landing heels first it just feels very inefficient.

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