They say, “Good technique is free speed”, and we couldn’t agree more. Don’t wait for bad habits and poor technique to cause an injury and then have to struggle to correct them and rewire your mind and body for the correct way to do it.
You may feel that you are at a disadvantage when it comes to running if you are comparing yourself to well-accomplished athletes, or even that “show-off” down the street that is always running no matter what the weather is. Well, nothing is further from the truth. Just starting out gives you a huge advantage to learn right from the start the correct way to run without injuring yourself.
Many people run for years only to find out that they’ve been going about it all wrong AFTER they have a bad knee, ankle, etc..
So don’t compare. Let’s just focus on you and your goals.
Let’s break down the best running technique before we hit the pavement so you can enjoy many years of running.
Run tall. Image your vertebrae are like a stack of coins. If the stack is tilted or curved it will fall right over. Shoulders back and lead with your chest, don’t hunch. Look straight at the horizon.
- Head on top of your shoulders
- Shoulders on top of your hips
- Hips on top of the ball of your foot on landing.
Your core muscles should be engaged while you are running. Your abdominals, glutes and hip flexors all need to work together in harmony to maintain good form. If you find yourself slouching, then your core is not actively engaged.
Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle (or less). Your hands should be close to your chest but never crossing the midline of your body. Once the hands cross past your sternum, they begin to drive your momentum off to the side instead of forward.
You may not even notice it, but you will be running in a slight zigzag, instead of a straight line. This will slightly add more ground to cover and waste precious time and energy. So keep the momentum going forward and don’t cross the midline of the body.
Your feet should be landing on the ground no further out then where your hands are. Any further and you are overextending, which could lead to heel striking. Allow your foot to naturally land on the midline of the foot, not the inside or outside edges.
Land on the ball of the foot and allow the whole foot to touch the ground before springing back off the ball to take the next step. This allows your whole foot to absorb the impact of your body weight coming down.
Stay light with your steps, imagine running on eggshells. Avoid bouncing up and down as you run, as this increases the impact and stress on the body. If you find that this is happening, try concentrating on driving your body forward rather than up while you are pushing off the ground.
Look forward at the horizon. If you see the landscape moving up and down a lot, then you’re bouncing as you run and this is a sign that you are creating a lot more impact on your body than is necessary. Do your best to minimize this. Try to keep your head level as you go.
A good solid running pace is somewhere between 160-180 steps per minute (spm). To track them, just count your steps for 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4. You most likely won’t be anywhere near this when you are starting out but it’s a goal to set for yourself in the future.
Relax your shoulders and hands. If you notice that you are running with clenched fists or that your shoulders are starting to shrug up to your ears, then you are running tense.
Take 10-20 seconds to shake out your arms to relax and reset your form. Even bring your shoulders up to your ears on purpose and then reset them back and down to a relaxed position. Do this every 5-10 minutes.
When you are running tense, your fighting yourself. Some of the energy you are using to drive yourself forward is being slowed by your tense muscles.
Imagine driving your car with your foot on the break, the car will burn out, you won’t get very far, and the distance you do travel will be a real struggle while burning way more gas than you need to.
Stay loose, smile, relax… enjoy yourself!!