I was doing some experimenting last night (again) with running, and I think I've come up with something. I believe that trying to consciously "pick up my feet" has been the factor that has been actually slowing me down. As the quotes below show, putting too much conscious thought into running can actually be a negative.
From Matt Fitzgerald:
"There is a newer theory of running biomechanics which holds that the stride is best improved unconsciously instead of consciously. It is well known that stride efficiency and power increase automatically through subconscious processes in response to different types of training. It is not known whether consciously manipulations of stride form can be beneficial, and if so, which specific changes are beneficial for which runners. Therefore your efforts to improve your stride should consist primarily if not entirely in training methods that stimulate “automatic” gains in power and efficiency."
And from a really good Fitzgerald article:
" McGregor’s studies indicate that there is no such thing as good running form. Rather, skillful running is the result of an unconscious, evolutionary process wherein each runner’s unique body finds its own best way to run economically, resulting in a form that is slightly different from that of any other runner."
"The point I’m getting at is that the only common theme in terms of the methods used to acquire the ability to run well are running a lot, and probably running fast and running against people who push you to push your limits. If we look at individuals who run a fair bit but don’t train with a group, they typically don’t exhibit some of the characteristics we ascribe to some of the best runners."
This is more of a qualitative than a quantitative analysis, but it makes sense. Again, from the field of complex systems, it’s what some people might call self-organization. When you run against people who push you to run faster, you find the optimal way to run that speed—or you don’t. Running is so complex that it’s difficult to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together consciously. The only thing you have to do consciously is try to run fast, and then the pieces of technique required to do that fall into place unconsciously. In other words, running technique improves through a process of self-organization, and that’s something you see in a lot of complex systems."
Excellent! And here's an article on the how-to part.