Proper Running Form
There are many ways to run, but there are strong similarities between all those that do it better than most. Over the years, i have gleened many of the finer points of our beloved form of locomotion, so below, please find the things you want to think about and focus on, at least according to me, when it comes to running form.
knee lift/kick back
The good thing about this is that it is highly likely
that if you fix one part, it will positively affect the others.
Given the choice, I suggest foot strike and cadence as your main things to work on.
is important to remember your feet and legs are only propelling you
forward if they are, however slightly, behind you.
Ideally, you should try to
use a mid-foot strike where the ball of the foot lands under your hips, not in front of them.
touch down in front of your hips (aka overstriding)
three things happen:
you actually slow
yourself down by hitting heel first,
you increase the
level of impact with every foot strike; and,
you delay the next
push off the length of time it takes for your body to get in front
of the contact point so you can actually push off.
If you get the forward
lean right and the feet under the hips right, you will naturally
Cadence or stride
The ideal cadence for
running is between 88 and 92 footstrikes per foot per minute. This goes for almost every size and speed
Simply count foot strikes
for 30 seconds and multiply by 2. If you get 90, you're golden. If not but you are close, that's
fine. if you are much higher or
lower, you should adjust accordingly.
One of the things gently
touched on above is overstriding and it's effect on impact-it increases it.
Keeping your cadence around 90 will result in a softer foot strike
because the body weight is supported more often, therefore
distributed between more footstrikes for
shorter periods of time. This will very likely reduce impact
injures and push you forward more often.
Hopefully, it is obvious
there is a point of diminshing returns in regards to the most efficient stride rate and taking more steps is not
necessarily better. Many more than 90 foot strikes per minute gets to be
too many and uses up more energy than it it worth..
A good stride race will
also limit upward motion, reducing time in the air, again, reducing
Stride rate does increase on acceleration, but once up to speed, goes back to 'normal'.
Running, like walking, is a series of falls where you
catch yourself with the next step. In order to continually fall
forward, you have to continually lean forward, thereby using the pull of
gravity to encourage that forward motion. If you stand up too
straight, you do not encourage that forward motion.
With that in mind, here is what I want you to focus on,
in order of priority.
look where you are going
keep your chin up so your
airway is open. If you look at your feet, or down at the
ground, your airway is a bit more closed than it needs to be and
if you do this, your
posture will naturally improve
should be back with chest out a
bit.. This will put your centre of gravity in a position that is slightly ahead of your body, creating the forward fall as gravity pulls it downward
This also opens up the lungs and makes it easier to breath deeply.
If your head is up and you
are looking where you are going, this is much easier.
Needs to be reasonably
taut and strong as it support the forward lean and keeps things in
line between hips and shoulders, As we fatigue, we tend to slouch. A
strong torso easily resists the fatigue.
If your head is up and
your chest is out, you cannot slouch.
Should be slightly
forward, adding a bit more to the forward lean.
To a point, the faster you run, the
more you lean.
It was proven long, long
ago that with the appropriate length lever, you can move almost
It is worth noting that
the longer the lever, the greater the distance one end needs to
travel in order to move whatever is at the other end. The
further the travel, the longer it takes..
Conversely, the shorter the distance the end has to travel, the
quicker it can move.
So, it stands to reason
that by raising your foot and bending your knee and thereby
shortening your leg (lever) on the kickback, the easier and quicker
you can get your knee forward and back into position to get your
foot back on the ground so it can propel you forward.
This action takes a little
more effort on the part of the hip flexors, hamstrings and calves,
but in terms of efficiency, is very worthwhile working on.
The faster you go, the
more beneficial it is to do this, but it
helps at all speeds.
Also, the faster you go,
the more pronounced it is.
Simply put, everyone is different when it comes to arm
swing, but the general rules are:
Do not cross over the
Use a relaxed and natural
Elbow should be bent to 60-70
degrees when the hand is in front of the body, and should snap open
to 70-80 degrees when initiating the
downswing and behind the hips.
Hand travel should be from
around sternum height to 10cm behind the hips.
If your hands go higher
than the sternum, there tends to be a bit more upward motion to the
body instead of forward motion.
Your shoulders, arms and
hands should be relaxed, but not floppy
It may help to visualize
yourself carrying a pen in each hand with the your thumb and first
knuckle of your index finger gently pinching the end of the pen
You also want to make sure
you don't poke yourself with the other end of the pen, so it should
point slightly outward.
Ideally, you should be thinking about this all the time,
especially when you get tired or are going easy, which are both times
when we get lazy. When you are rested or running quick, a lot of
this comes naturally.
Great running posture with special attention to the high
kick back and short lever for faster follow-through.
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