We suggest four technique points you can focus on to help improve your running form and two technique points you don’t need to worry about.
The internet is full of advice on how you should run and offers extensive programmes for changing your running form. We like to keep it simple. We focus on four key technique points that you can practice. These are all you need to improve your form.
- Run with high hips
Try running with low hips and you will realise how important this one is! When you sink in the hips and try to run, you put pressure on your knees. It feels uncomfortable and you can only shuffle along. To bring your hips up you need to focus on running tall. Imagine a helium balloon attached to the top of your head lifting you up as you run. Running tall with high hips give your legs room to move and power your stride.
2. Run with your shoulders low and relaxed
It’s common for runners to tense their shoulders when they run. Try this technique to help relax them. Before you set off raise your arms in a V shape above your head. We call this the ‘victory pose’. Imagine you have won the London Marathon! This pose stretches out your arms and puts your shoulders in the right place, directly in line with your hips. Now put your arms down and focus on relaxing the shoulders as you run.
3. Arms at right angles by your side
Runners often forget to think about where their arms are when they run. Keep your arms at right angles just brushing your hips. If you tend to run with arms held low, pretend you have a chain saw round your middle to stop you dropping your arms below your waist. When you sparkle or you run fast concentrate on pushing your arm back and it will spring forward naturally.
4. Feet landing underneath your hips
This is a difficult technique point to practice but if you run tall it will happen automatically. Don’t worry about it too much unless you feel that your feet land forward of your hips. This acts as a break and will put pressure on your knees. Lift up and run tall and this should bring your feet back to landing in alignment with your hips.
Running tired won’t improve your running technique
Once you feel your form deteriorating stop! If your shoulders are hunched, your hips have dropped, and your arms are tense stop. Continuing to run with bad form could lead to this becoming a habit. Many people who run too fast have learnt to run tired with inefficient form. Remember the golden rule. If you start to get tired and your form goes stop.
Two technique points that you don’t need to worry about
Have confidence that your brain will compute how fast you’re running and will work out the most efficient stride length for you on that particular run. Cadence is how many steps a minute you take and 180 steps a minute is often held up as the ideal to aim for. This is because that is what top marathon runners do. However, most top marathoners are short in stature and run at an incredible 5 minute per mile pace. The faster you run the higher your cadence will be as your legs need to turn over at a greater rate to propel you along at speed. If you run at a gentle pace, you will naturally run with a low cadence. When you Sparkle your cadence will be higher. There is no need to worry about it. Let your brain do the work for you.
It really doesn’t matter which part of your foot plants first as it hits the ground. Heel strike or mid-foot strike it doesn’t matter. As you run gently you will probably run with a heel strike but pick up speed and you may come up onto your forefoot. Once again your brain is brilliant and will choose what’s best for you. Some runners run on their forefoot all the time whilst others will never come up onto their toes however fast they run.
Remember everyone has their own running style
It is a mistake to try and copy an elite runner’s style because you don’t have their body. You wouldn’t attempt to copy their training so why copy their style. Let your brain work out what’s best for you.