Improve Your Running Form
There is no exact science that specifies perfect running
form. Each human body is made differently and running styles
vary. Good running style involves a mix of leg, arm and
torso movements so that you move with optimal mechanical
efficiency. For example, good form requires the correct
combination of stride length and frequency. Good form looks
smooth and relaxed. The main goal in running is to be more
efficient, running economy, where you are able to run at
a certain speed with less oxygen used.
A good running style doesnt guarantee improved running
performances because fitness also plays an important part
in running faster over a long periods. However, we do know
that bad running form detracts from improving ones
performance. There are top professional triathletes all
around the world who run well even though they have less
than desirable form. My response to this is how much
faster could they go if they improved their form?
Although we all have an innate running style,
we can change that to improve running efficiency and economy.
As in changing your swimming technique or cycling cadence,
you know that with cognitive thinking and discipline, your
bodys nervous system can adapt to change. It is not
easy to do it on your own. It is best to have a coach critique
your form on a regular basis and to have running style videotaped
so you can visually see what needs to be corrected and,
over a period of time, you can visually see yourself change.
Here are some important visuals to help you improve your
The feet: Run straight. Running straight will reduce the
rotation or twisting of the ankles and knees which helps
in preventing a shortening of stride due to the turning
of the foot. Keep the feet and legs moving directly forward
with minimal twisting motion.
The ankle: Increase flexibility. Improved flexibility improves
stride length. A muscle generates greater contractile force
after it has been pre-stretched. The longer the heel is
in contact with the ground while the knee moves forward,
the greater the pre-stretch of the calf muscles. This increases
both power and stride length.
The knee: Use proper knee lift. For triathletes, we typically
race the run segment a minimum of 10 kilometers. We are
also not as fresh since we have just swum and biked. My
motto is to always train the way you race. We
should concentrate less on a sprinting style with a high
knee lift and more as a marathoner with less knee lift.
Too high of a knee left, such as sprinting, increases vertical
oscillation which expends more energy. Triathletes would
more efficiently use that energy moving forward then the
up and down movement.
The pelvis: Strengthen the major muscle groups. The pelvis
area contains major muscle groups that generate the forward
thrust of the pushoff as well as the forward thrust of the
leading leg. A lack of hip mobility limits the stride length.
You can never be too strong or flexible around the hip area.
Shoulders and upper arms: Keep them relaxed. They primarily
provide balance, but they can assist the leg muscles more
as you run faster and climb hills. Proper arm movement prevents
your torso from rotating too much from side to side, which
makes your running less efficient. Let your arms and shoulders
relax. Contracting the muscles in this area is wasting precious
energy stores for the lower half of the body.
Stretch: This was my downfall. I was too tired doing all
three sports and weights. The sport is time consuming enough
for us as it is. I was a decent runner in the sport; however,
looking back at my career, I cant help but believe
that stretching for twenty minutes every other day would
have helped my race performance, especially in the run segment.
Running involves so many movements of the body; flexibility
can only enhance those movements.