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Master Your Running Technique

Running is simple — just lace up your shoes and start putting one foot in front of the other at a faster pace than a walk, right?

Of course, that’s true, but when it comes to getting the most bang out of your miles, you cannot ignore proper technique. It, in fact, can make or break you as a runner.

Good form reduces the impact on your body, improves your efficiency, lowers injury risk — all of which allow you to run faster, further, and with less fatigue. Would you like to reap some of these benefits? Then today you’re in the right place. Without further ado, here are the guidelines provided by guest blogger, David Dack, you need to ensure proper running form, from your head to your toes.

Your Head

Your head should be stacked directly over a straight neck and spine. Picture a string attached to the top of your head, lifting your upward and gently pulling you forward.

Your Back

Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground, back flat, and navel pulled into your spine. Do not lean forward nor arch your back — this can throw your alignment off or limit your breathing.

Arm Swing

The more powerful you move your arms, the more power you can generate — fast arms equals faster legs.

Keep your arms at your sides — do not swing side to side. You’re more likely to slouch when your arms cross over your chest. This not only compromises your form but also restricts your breathing.

Your Elbows

Bend your elbows at roughly 90-degrees with your hands gliding past your waistline. As you swing your arms back and forth, your elbows should be swinging roughly between your waistline and chest.

Avoid Over-striding

A common mistake I see in many runners is over-striding. When you’re landing on your foot in front of your knee, you’re also in front of your centre of gravity, causing a braking effect. This forces you to use up more energy per stride than when you keep your momentum moving forward.

Here’s what you need to instead: Land as close to underneath your body as possible. Try to hit the ground on the base of your heel in front of the arch.

Improve Your Cadence

Confused about how to improve your foot strike? Running cadence to the rescue. Cadence refers to the number of times your feet make contact with the ground in one minute of running. A faster cadence, as research shows, may improve your running economy, reduce injury risk, and increase your running speed.

As a general rule, cap your running cadence at around 180 steps per minute — that’s an optimal number according to research. But don’t lose sleep over not being able to hit 180 exactly — as long as you’re striving to improve your leg turnover, you’re on the right path.

When practicing faster cadence using a metronome, keep focusing on taking shorter and faster strides and increasing the cadence slowly and incrementally.

For example, if your current leg turnover is 168, set it to 172 and progress gradually from. Don’t try to change everything overnight — or you’ll just overwhelm yourself.

Drills

If you’re serious, really serious, about taking your form to the next level, then I’d highly recommend adding drill training to your workout routine.

Proper running drills will help you improve your range of motion, engage different muscles, accentual facets of proper running form, and help you drill in on proper technique.

Drills like the following will help you bread down your running movement into parts, with an emphasis on parts in need of improvement.

Here are a few options

  • Lunges
  • Form drills
  • Backward running
  • Strides
  • Mobility exercises
  • Skips

Just make sure you’re performing these exercises using proper form so as not to promote poor movement patterns. 

Feel free to perform the drills as an independent workout or as part of your warm-up. The key to getting the most out of them is to focus on doing them while you’re feeling fresh.

Go through the drills as fast as you can and aim to perform as correctly as possible. Do not let your form go south.

Conclusion

All it takes to improve your efficiency and the way you run is to simply try to incorporate elements of good form shared here. Of course, it’s going to take you a while to ingrain them into your daily runs, but it’s just a matter of time. The rest are just details, as the saying goes. 

The Auro app is home to a great selection of running workouts and training plans, all guided by world-class personal trainers to keep your form on point and your mind motivated.

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About the author:

David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.