Whether you’re putting in work in the gym or on the track, form is everything. Running with proper form allows you to maximize your performance efficiency while preventing pain and injury. Here are three keys to focus on when analyzing your form.
“Run tall” – if you’ve ever had a coach or trainer, you’ve probably heard this shouted at you from across the track. Now that it’s 2020, we’ll extend the mantra to “Run Tall, Lean Forward.” Your form may naturally get lazy as you run, so when you start to feel slow and small, remember to elongate your spine, pick your head up, and try to lean your torso slightly forward. This can also help with overstriding, which we’ll touch on in key number two!
A tall posture and forward lean will also force your body to naturally lean at the ankles and alter your strike position, shifting stress away from your heels and helping you to run faster. Think of your running posture in terms of maximizing that push-off and spring forward from your planted foot, rather than a pulling forward and stretching out of your leading foot.
2. Strike & Stride
Striking refers to the region of your foot that first makes contact with the ground when running. A great majority of people are heel-strikers, which is not problematic in itself, but can lead to injury due to the intense nature of the strike, and can also easily slump into lazy running posture.
More importantly than strike location is striding, and doing everything you can to prevent overstriding. Overstriding, meaning that at the time of striking, your foot is further forward than your knee, is an inefficient style and can lead to serious knee, ankle, and food injury. Whether you heel-strike or fore-strike, you can still overstride. Try to be mindful of maintaining your striking foot directly aligned with the knee above it, which should coincide nicely with your “running tall and leaning forward” from key number one. Have a friend film you from the side while running and see if you can identify any overstriding issues!
Running rhythmically consists of many factors, but they all go together brilliantly. Running with rhythm, balance, and control is vital to preventing injury, maximizing efficiency, and maintaining a consistent level of performance. It’s the result of practice, practice, and more practice – and maybe even some time in the gym.
A strong core and gluteal muscles is a good place to start, as both groups contribute massively to the balance and stability of your pelvis, hips, and trunk. Spend some time in the gym to ensure that these areas aren’t holding you back! While running, try to find the natural rhythms aligning between the following: loose, relaxed arms that swing with each step, a step cadence around 180 steps per minute (increasing this cadence can also help with overstriding), and consistent breathing that acts as the metronome for all of your running functions.
Beyond these three keys, try to train consciously. Many runners talk about zoning out while running, which can be great for maintaining a high level of performance during endurance events. However, while training and potentially identifying form corrections, don’t zone out! Run mindfully, be aware of your body’s motions and rhythms, and work proactively to prevent injury and achieve consistency with every step.
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- 5 keys to better running form, by Greg McMillan, 2016 April 23, https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/5-keys-to-better-running-form/
- Proper running technique: six ways to run more efficiently, by James Dunne, 2020 April 30, https://www.kinetic-revolution.com/running-technique-6-ways-to-improve-efficiency/