To be a fast runner, or one who can run long, it’s important to get the basics right with good run technique.
Without good technique you are setting yourself up to struggle at some point in the future, whether it’s not getting as fast as you would like, or picking up an injury that sets you back just when you are enjoying yourself.
There is a lot of chatter surrounding proper running form in today’s running world, which makes it very difficult to work out what is appropriate or suitable for you.
Here are some key points for your running form to help you get it right each and every time.
Slow down any footage of a sprinter in full flight and you will see how effortless they make it look, how relaxed their jaw is and how their shoulders are hanging away from their ears. Tense muscles restrict your range of motion.
Raise your shoulders to your ears at each marker during a race, or when your device tells you you’ve notched up another kilometres, and then drop them back down into their ideal, relaxed position.
Perform the hands on head drill. Start by interlocking your hands on your head. Focus on keeping your core solid and straight while keeping the hips and shoulders level and relaxed. Start running. This drill will help you to eliminate any left to right movement through the hips and help eliminate a criss-crossing, side-to-side arm carriage.
A balanced head will keep you going on the right track. Your head is your body’s steering wheel – where you turn it your body will want to follow.
Keep your eyes looking ahead and slightly downward.
Increase your cadence before your stride length
Running speed is a result of stride length (the distance between your feet as you land) multiplied by stride frequency (how often your feet touch the ground, or cadence).
If you try to increase stride length first you will reduce your stride frequency, which should ideally be 180 foot strikes per minute.
The easiest way to count stride frequency is to count your steps for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.
Take a few minutes to listen to your feet hit the pavement when you run. The more time your feet spend on the ground, the more energy you need to propel yourself forward. Focus on increasing your cadence, and in turn, your efficiency.
You can download metronome apps to run at a set beat, or running music apps to keep you to the same beat.
The hips don’t lie
Slow cadence often goes hand-in-hand with heel striking, which happens when your hips are behind your feet.
Your hips are a vital link between your upper and lower body. If your hips are tilted backwards then you reduce your ability to increase your stride length.
A slight forwards lean from your ankles will encourage proper forward propulsion from the hips. Keep your head as level as possible, and avoid bouncing up and down as you propel yourself forward.
The less you bend your arms and legs the more work your muscles have to do. An arm or leg that’s bent moves much more easily than one that is straight.
Hold your arms with a 90 degree angle and don’t let that angle widen on the back swing.
Your knees should also be running at a 90 degree angle once you are warmed up and running at a good, medium pace.
Here is a youtube video I like to share to show good run technique.