Running is the one sport that people think that they don’t have to worry about technique, running is simple isn’t it, you just put your trainers on and run; if only that was true. By improving your running technique you can improve as a runner by running more efficiently and subsequently running faster. Poor technique can lead to you becoming tired more easily as you are not running efficiently and this can lead to injury if you have bad form.
As a running coach I do not believe in changing a runner’s running style, we all have our own unique way of running and there is no perfect running form. However, I do believe that by making the following small adjustments you can become a better runner.
Here are my top tips that will help you develop good running form
You should run tall and in the direction that you are travelling in, your shoulders should be relaxed, back and down, try running with your shoulders bunched up to your ears, this should feel uncomfortable and unnatural. You would soon tire if you continued to run like this over any distance. Relax your shoulders and keep your head high, look ahead of you with your jaw relaxed and your mouth open.
To see how important arms are when you run try running 10m with your arms above your head or behind your back. By doing this hopefully you will see how out of control and uncoordinated you may feel and how your arms balance you. Bend your arms at the elbow, about a 90-degree angle and drive your elbow back, as though you are hammering a nail into a wall. This stops the arms crossing your body and consequently twisting your torso. If you run with a strong arm drive your body will look for symmetry therefor your arms should match your legs, and it’s easier to drive our arms back when you are tired than driving the knee up but by doing this, trust me your legs will follow.
Your hands do not want to be clenched into a fist, they need to be relaxed; clenching them wastes too much energy. Imagine that you have a budgie in each hand and you are gently carrying the budgies so that they don’t get squashed, if you clench your fists you will kill the budgies; remember “Don’t kill the budgies!” In other words, keep your hands relaxed and slightly cupped.
If you run with high hips this will keep you in the tall upright posture that you should be aiming for, before you run just tuck your tailbone (your bottom) in. This pushes the hips forward and enables you to run tall. Imagine that you have a bowl of water in your pelvis; the idea is that you don’t spill the water so keep your hips stable and balanced when running, try not to leak any water out of the bowl.
There is no right way or wrong way to land on your feet, generally as long as you land underneath your center of gravity and don’t over stride this will help improve your leg turnover, so imagine that you are “popping” off the ground.
Try these adjustments next time you run, work from the head downwards and spot check
how you are doing periodically. As you increase your miles and as you start to tire keep a
check list in your head, where are my shoulders? What are my arms doing, keep my head up
high and above all run relaxed.