Running Form & Technique
Technique for running is important so you can move forward as fast and as long as you can with little waste and supreme efficiency. It’s the practice of mixing together form and style to create a faster runner. Mainly it’s the biomechanics of running – the science of motion and its effects on the human body. Running form involves economical use of the body without risking injury. Running style, on the other hand, is how you feel or look when running.
Some people question why they should change their running form if it has worked for them in past sprints or sports. For starters, it makes a tremendous difference in your odds of not getting injured, primarily in the lower body. In addition, the amount of energy you waste using the wrong form could be detrimental in a marathon. For marathon running you need to focus a relaxed free-flowing form. Using more energy to cover the same distance just does not make sense if you are trying to get your best time. Not only the loss of energy but also the fatigue and poor performance are enough to convince the novice runner to make changes to their running form.
Improving your running form is more productive than increasing your aerobic capacity or raising you lactate threshold for example. Small simple changes in your running technique can make significant improvements in running times, reduce your chance of injury, and promote faster recovery. Proper form makes the body act and move more efficiently, and minimize the use of energy and oxygen.
Good total running form is achieved by a mixture of having good arm motion, a proper angle of the body and understanding which foot strike and forward striding techniques you should use depending on your needs and situation. If you manage to incorporate all of these at once it’s likely that you’ve found the best running form you can have for your own body, completely personalized according to your own physique and abilities.
The best way to get the proper running form for a training pace is to always practice and train on a regular basis. On occasion, you should focus on specific body parts – arms, legs, head, body, feet, etc. If you’re training for racing, go with speed workouts as quick-paced training runs will help your body become accustomed to the mechanics that are necessary to keep that pace. They’ll make your running form more exaggerated, making you devote more concentration to it and it’ll therefore stick in your mind and muscle memory more easily.
Concentrate on all aspects of your running form – foot strike, forward motion, the angle of the body, by leaning forward into the hill and pushing the hips upward, and the motion of the arms. The arms should move starting from the elbow with short and quick movements. The shoulders and elbow need to be relaxed, but not so relaxed that they flop about and offer no forward motion.
Body angle - If you use heel of the foot strike method, an erect posture is more efficient, because the muscles have to strain otherwise to keep you balanced. However, if you’re using the ball of the foot method, you should lean slightly forward, so you can have a more fluid motion of the legs.
Head - Its best to keep it centered on your shoulders, straight and erect – the body will otherwise follow the head in whatever direction. Your head will help keep you erect. Don’t look at your feet, don’t look up, but always keep your eyes straight ahead.
Hips – Relax you hips, keep them forward and up, at the same time pulling in the buttocks by moving your pelvis forward slightly. This can let you push your body forward more easily because the center of gravity that’s already forward.
Upper torso – your shoulders should be hanging relaxed, and let them curve slightly in a relaxed manner. Should your torso be leaning forward too much your hips will move backward to balance you out, thus badly affecting your posture. Your stride length will suffer as a result.
Arms - The arms should swing loosely from your shoulders. Carrying them too high can cause fatigue and a shortened stride. This is due partially to aerodynamics – the closer you are to the ground in this case, the better. The arms generally shouldn’t go any higher than the chest or any lower than the waist. In addition, when your arm goes backward, the hand should just barely touch the seam of your shorts.
Hands - Your hands need to be relaxed, but not completely hanging loosely. To have your hands positioned properly, you should let your wrists be relaxed.
Vertical bounce - You should try to eliminate as much as possible the vertical bounce, All the extra energy you use to bounce vertically can be used to move your forward. If you have extra bounce in your vertical plane the less effective you are. While running, focus on an object far in the distance. If the object seems to be bouncing up and down excessively, make the necessary corrections.
The preferred method to move forward uses a constant, slightly bent knee in which prevent bouncing and thigh fatigue. Make sure you accelerate just before you leave the ground, otherwise there is a chance of slowing down when you hit the ground. If your foot is still moving forward when it hits the ground, you are in fact moving at a negative velocity relative to the ground with increased shock to your feet and legs.
Your legs and arms are both contributors of forward running motion. The swing of both your legs and arms should be relaxed.. You use energy to move forward, and this is energy well spent. When we use too much energy to move the legs in the air, you are wasting energy so after the foot strike, you want the lower leg to naturally swing back and up toward your bottom. Do not let your leg pause at the rear of the pendulum swing but simply let the foot start to swing naturally forward.
Crossing the arms and stretching them out farther are another common problems. Your arms are simply pendulums that complement the swinging legs below. Crossing your arms in the front of your body is often caused by too much rotation of your shoulders and torso; this is also caused by over striding. Your shoulders should be squared with little to no rotation, and your arms should swing front-to-rear with minimal side-to-side movement. Your hands should be kept relaxed with a slight bend at your knuckles.
While out on a run, concentrate on not making any noise. Running “light” is the style of the runner who floats along the roads scarcely making any sound, which is easier to visualize than attain. Heavy-footed running, on the other hand, usually do not survive the rigors of distance running. They suffer painful foot, leg, and hip injuries and are frustrated because they cannot increase their speed. Run noiselessly.
Let your chin hang loosely. Keep your mouth slightly open and loosen your jaw. This keep the muscles in your neck and shoulders relaxed. Occasionally let the head roll from side to side and then return, shrug the shoulders and let them drop, or drop your arms loosely at your side to promote relaxation.
Check yourself occasionally as you run. Make sure your shoulders have not risen to your ears, causing your arms to rise and become ineffective. Make sure your fingers are cupped and not held tightly. Squeezed hands cause your arms to tighten and restrict your free-flowing movement. Also, check your wrists. Make sure they are loose and flicks at the bottom of the swing as they should to help you keep a steady beat to your rhythm.
While running you become aware of your breathing, your reseparations will come at a faster rate and much deeper as your need for oxygen increases. As a runner, you should pay close attention to your breathing pattern, adjusting your inhale and exhale will be more efficient for you. Quick shallow breaths indicate nervousness and cause your entire body to tense up so make a determined effort to slow down your breathing by taking deeper breaths that are regular and rhythmic.
Breathing should be relaxed, and follow the principle of belly breathing, which will also help you to avoid dreaded side stitch. With proper abdominal breathing the belly expands as you breathe in, flattens as you breathe out. The expansion of your abdomen fully lowers your diaphragm and your lungs inflate to the maximum, allowing more efficient intake of oxygen.
Try to breath in constant rhythms. You can use the 2:2 method of breathing which will help you with your oxygen intake and will also keep you in tune with your body and running rhythm.. Every two strides you take will be one complete breath consisting of one inhale and one exhale. Force the breath out and then slowly breathe it in. Counting your breaths will also form some kind of distraction during a particularly difficult long run. Regular rhythmic breathing on the run is no different from while you are at rest. The rate remains about the same, while breathing volume uniformly rises.
Furthermore, to allow an increased need of oxygen the best way for marathon runners to breathe is to run with their mouths open. While running, especially in high speed, you will not get enough oxygen into your system by breathing through your nose alone so make sure you breath with your mouth as well