WHAT IS GOOD ‘RUNNING FORM’?
HOW SHOULD WE IMPROVE OUR RUNNING TECHNIQUE?
HOW EASY IS IT TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU RUN?
SHOULD ALL RUNNERS BE LOOKING TO CHANGE?
A tough set of questions. There is no doubt that your technique has a significant impact on your running efficiency and injury susceptibility, but there is no ‘catch all’ method of running we should all follow.
To make any significant changes to running technique, we recommend you get an expert's opinion or join a program that can help you.
There are a couple of things you can do now however, that might improve your efficiency of movement.
INCLUDE SOME STRENGTH TRAINING IN YOUR ROUTINE
Studies have shown that including a couple of short exercise routines a week can significantly improve your economy. A coach can give you a specific plan, but a simple routine of 20-30mins should include a series of leg exercises, focusing on muscles around your trunk. This could include bridges, squats, side planks, lunges. Single leg exercises best mirror the challenge of running.
Sprinting is the best strength training a runner can do. Including some ‘strides’ or hill sprints in your training will make the world of difference to your running efficiency. In addition to improving power and strength as a result of more ballistic muscle contractions, short fast sprints have an added neuromuscular benefit. You use more of the muscles at your disposal and learn to fire them more rapidly.
Including Strides once a week is really simple, there is a video explainer at the end of the article.
THINK ABOUT FORM ON THE RUN
Running technique is individual, but there are a few simple areas where a tweak or two can pay dividends. It’s useful to have a short checklist of areas you can run through your mind every so often when you’re out on the run. Here’s some ideas:
Posture - Are you standing tall? There should be an imaginary street line that runs down the outside of your body, connecting ears, shoulders, hips and ankles.
Arms - Is there any stiffness around the shoulders? Are they ‘low’ (not hunched!) and relaxed? Are your arms moving forwards and backwards like a pendulum from the shoulder joint
Hips - Are you holding hips ‘high’ to keep your posture tall? Is there rotation around the hips and torso you could try to eliminate?
Ground Contact - Can you hear your footstrike? If you can try and shorten your stride (increase cadence / turnover) and land lightly on the ground underneath your hips. Don’t worry about which part of the foot hits the ground- ‘apply’ the whole foot to the ground.
Going through this list of cues while out on the run also helps bring your mind back to the present and away from distractions. For experienced runners it is also a great way to take your mind of feelings of fatigue or apprehension during races.
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