What is good running technique?
Running efficiently and with ‘good form’ just feels better and you’ll soon know when you’re running well and getting it right. With more body awareness and better mind/body dialogue you’ll be able to correct your inefficiencies during a run and refocus when you feel your technique start to deteriorate. But is it really that simple? And how do you run with ‘good technique’?
Here are a few of Sarah Russell's top tips for good running form:
1. Think about your arms as ‘pistons’ by your side. Avoid twisting and aim for a ‘forwards and backwards’ motion. Your elbow should be a relaxed 90 degree angle and your arm should swing from the shoulder. Aim to drive back with the elbows in an arc, instead of reaching forwards with the hands. Don't cross the midline zip.
2. Hands should feel relaxed but with ‘firm’ wrists. Avoid clenching your fists. Imagine you’re holding a ‘crisp’ between your thumb and forefinger – and try not to break it!
3. Shoulders should be relaxed, shoulder blades pulled back and chest lifted - keep those headlights switched on!
4. Heel striking causes a ‘braking effect’ and increases the amount of force transmitted through your body, whereas mid or fore foot running is more efficient and effective, propelling you onto the next step more easily. You can’t (nor shouldn’t) try to become a mid foot runner overnight though, but what you can do is reduce the braking effect. Your legs should do a ‘cycling’ action underneath you, leading with the knee (not heel) and landing with a slightly bent knee.
5. Relax your face and jaw, (some runners grind their teeth or chew their tongues) – especially in a tough race or session
6. Relax your whole body. Tension wastes energy.
7. Lean slightly forwards, but not excessively. You should aim to land with your foot just under your centre of gravity – not in front of your body.
8. Try to land lightly to run smoothly and efficiently without any ‘up and down’ movement of the body. Think light fairy feet.
9. When the foot leaves the ground, try to make sure the heel moves up towards the buttock to engage the hamstring and glute muscles. This shortens the stride and increases cadence - which is a good thing!
10. Keep the hips lifted and 'high'. Headlights pointing forwards, pelvis and glutes engaged.
The next time you go out running, try to be a little more aware of what your body is doing. Where are your hands? Are your shoulders hunched up? Do you land on your heel or midfoot? Do your shoulders twist from side to side? Becoming more aware of your body and getting more in tune with it is the first step to being a faster and more efficient runner. Once you’re aware of your weakness in your running style, give yourself some cues to work on the problems. Positive cues like ‘relax hands’ or ‘lift chest’ or ‘shoulders back’ can make all the difference.. repeat them in your head or out loud if you feel your technique deteriorating.
But remember, you're learning a new skill and it can take time to develop. Running is all about patience and perseverance. Stick with it and good luck.