How to improve your running technique

A GOOD running technique can improve your performance, help you run more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury. But what does good technique look like? And how can you improve your running technique? Here are some tips to help.

If you are serious about improving your performance and reaching your potential as an endurance athlete, you need to consider technique and take time to develop it. A good technique makes a huge difference to how you run and how much energy you use.

Many runners make the mistake of not doing any work on technique. They lace up their trainers and head out for a run. They might focus on speed, endurance and strength, but form is something that is generally neglected.

What does good running technique look like?

An athlete with a good technique has a tall posture and high hips. The upper body should be relaxed with an efficient backwards driving arm action. Your elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and hands should be relaxed. The foot should land naturally underneath the body, moving down and backwards. Rhythm, or cadence, should guide the speed and efficiency of the running action. Practising this technique and incorporating drills into your training is the best way to improve your form and ensure you stay injury free.

How to improve your running technique

Think tall

When you run, think about your posture. Good posture is essential in running. If you run tall you will automatically lift your hips and cover more ground. It will help your breathing, and your movements will be more efficient. If you have a job which involves sitting for long hours, try to think about good posture throughout the day, not just when you run. This will reduce the risk of back, shoulder and neck pain. To improve your posture when you are running, imagine that a piece of string attached to a helium balloon is pulling upwards from the top of your head. Look straight ahead, not down at the floor.

Running drills

Performing running drills regularly will improve your running technique. The drills are designed to help your body adapt to the movement of running. They are specific to the sport and should be done after the warm up and before the main session. They help to correct poor technique and activate the muscles needed to run.

Relaxed running

Try to relax as much as possible when you run, and avoid tensing your body. Not only will you be able to enjoy the run, you’ll also reduce the pressure on your body. Warming up effectively will help you to relax into the run and mobilise your joints.

Arm action

Having an efficient arm action can help with balance and speed. Remember to relax. Any tension in your back, shoulders and neck, will have a negative impact on how you run. Include arm exercises in your warm up to help with mobility. If you feel yourself tensing up during a run or race, shake your arms out.

Faster feet

To run faster, your feet need to turnover quickly, spending the least amount of time on the ground. There are a number of exercises you can do to increase efficiency and improve your landings, including skipping. Make sure you alternate your feet and increase the skipping speed. When it comes to foot strike, a coach will be able to advise you on how you plant your foot and whether or not you need to change this. Try to land as lightly as possible and be careful not to over-stride. This is where your foot lands in front of your knee.

Core strength

Core strength is important. This is the mid-part of the body including abdominal muscles, glutes, back, hamstrings and quadriceps. The stronger your core, the more force you can exert on the ground. How you run is determined by strength and flexibility of particular muscle groups. By focusing on your core strength, you will soon notice gains in your running performance. Even when you are fatigued you will maintain your form, staying upright and strong to the finish of the race.

Professional feedback

Working with a running coach, run leader, physiotherapist or fitness professional is one of the best ways to get professional feedback on your running form. They will be able to assess how you run and where you can improve. They will be able to advise you on the best drills and exercises to do to develop your individual technique. Everyone is different and requires a training programme specific to their needs.

Patience

It takes a lot of time and hard work to improve your technique, but it will be worth it. Technique really is an important aspect of training and should not be ignored. It’s also important to remember that even the most successful athletes have struggled with aspects of technique – think Paula Radcliffe’s nodding head and Haile Gebrselassie’s school-book arm. It’s possible to perform well without focusing on technique, but if you want to reach your potential, then developing your form will certainly help.

You may be interested in this post. How and why you should warm up before running.

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