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Runners Form For Non-Elite Runners

Runners form gets discussed a lot. Is it important, and should you spend time perfecting your running form?

Well, the answer to that question is a rather unhelpful yes and no. So let’s deal with this. You shouldn’t get too concerned with your running form in the respect that none of us is going to run perfectly in respect of looking at a world-class marathon runner, and seeing this gazelle-like runner, and then comparing our running form to that very unlikely, we’re going to be running like that.

Runners Form Is Like A Finger Print…

Because at the end of the day, our bodies are very clever at adapting to the limitations that we have, and particularly as people get older, there are going to be limitations that occur where running. Running form becomes about choosing between the limitations that you can’t change and dealing with the limitations that you can change.

Where proper running form is important is running form can help you stay injury-free and increase your running economy. And ultimately, your speed.

So let’s look at what makes up running technique

Runners Form

So what I’m going to do in this article is outline the areas where you can improve your running form. However, you don’t want to approach it in respect of being perfect. Chase perfection, catch excellence would be my tip here; look at making incremental improvements in your running form in the areas you think you may be weakest at the moment and see how they go. But don’t become too obsessed about perfecting it all in one go.

I will share an analogy with you—many, many years ago. Stupidly, I decided that I wanted to take up golf. Now the first couple of balls I hit wasn’t that bad. They were pretty good. And then somebody came over and said, Well, look, what I’m going to do is show you the absolute correct way to hit a golf ball. Once this person had shown me the grip my stance, they told me to relax my body. I could hardly breathe, let alone actually hit a golf ball.

And I think this is one of the downsides of runners looking at their running form. Sometimes it can take away from the natural flow of their running, and I don’t think that’s something you should do. However, just being aware of certain things can help you stay injury free and potentially make you a more economical runner, which is very important, particularly at longer distances, and also potentially creates the likelihood that you could become a faster runner.

So I think it’s well worth looking into with the caveat of not getting too overly obsessed with the whole proper running form scenarios.

Avoid Over Striding

over striding

When considering proper running technique, you have to look at how your foot makes contact with the ground.

Now, this is one of the areas in running form that I really think is very important. If you can adjust this, if you do overstride, then I think it’s benefitting you regarding running economy and improving running posture.

What Is Over Striding?

What overstriding actually is in the simplest sense is if you’re overstriding your ankle, you will be ahead of your knee when your foot makes contact with the ground.

So when you’re not overstriding your knee and ankle upon contact with the ground, it should be in alignment.

Now, this is a lot more subtle than you might think. It’s much easier to overstride than you might imagine, even if you think that you’re not taking massive strides. If you find that your ankle is in front of your knee, when your feet hit the ground, your foot hits the ground. Then, in effect, in actuality, you are overstriding.

So an easy way to find this is to set up a mobile phone somewhere and run past if your phones got slow-mo, then and have a look where your foot hit the ground, where your ankle is in relativity to your knee.

Doing this will start to instil into your muscle memory proper running form.

Become Aware Of Your Cadance

One of the things to help with overstriding is to become aware of your running cadence. Now, I know that many watches track running cadence and not be 100% accurate. It’s interesting and useful to look at your running cadence; you will get lots of facts and figures about running cadence, saying it should be 180 190.

However, the reality that we’re talking about here in this article is if you’re overstriding because of the reduction in running economy, You will more than likely find that your running cadence is lower. So, in reverse, if you want to stop over striding, then by actually increasing your running cadence, you will more than likely reduce your overstriding and a correct running form.

And what you’ll also find is, as I said earlier, you will become a much more economical runner, which means that you’re more than likely will be able to go further, without getting more tired. Also, you will reduce the risks of some of the repetition injuries you get, particularly in long-distance running.

Another Article You Might Like-Using The Run Walk Method

Run Posture.

body posture when running

One of the things you hear about running form is having a tall posture that slightly leans forward. this gets a lot of runners confused. Basically, you’ve got to have that straight line up your body. The slight lean comes from the ankles and not as believed by many, not from the hip area.

A lot of runners have bad posture when they run due to many people sitting for long periods of time in their everyday lives. When running, you have to imagine that you have a string running up your body, and rather like a puppet, someone is pulling you up straight.

As I said, the slight lean forward is from the ankles and not the hips.

Foot Strike

So you might have heard of the different foot strikes from forefoot, midfoot or heel strike.

It’s generally concluded that no one way of running is inherently bad. However, a personal note for me is that a midfoot landing seems to make more sense when looking at running and reducing injury.

A great book to read on this is Shane Benzie’s book The Lost Art of running, which discusses this very subject.

Relax Your Body

Something else that can really help with your proper running form is relaxation. Now, this might sound a little bit woo-woo, but I can guarantee you it has based on science, and I can also tell you based on my running experience has a massive, massive impact; even just relaxing your jaw will have an impact, all the way through your body, because we are totally interconnected upstream or downstream so if you have an injury, Say, in your knee. Sometimes that problem isn’t the knee, it could be something in the ankle, or it could be something in the hips. So, when you realise that we are basically a 360-degree machine that has to be treated that way so relaxing, our body when we run will, in effect, put less pressure on our bodies when we run.

Relax Your Shoulders

Relax your shoulders. Bring your shoulders down; it’s, I think it comes a lot from us sitting at computers a lot with our shoulders up, so bring your shoulders down.

I see a lot of runners with shoulders up around their ears. By relaxing the shoulders, it puts less stress on the arms.

Relax Your Arms And Eyes For Proper Running Form

When you’re moving your arms, I don’t run with my fists clenched; I don’t run with them open, so I run with them like I’m holding something, but I’m holding it very gently, so imagine you were running holding an egg. But you were trying not to crush it, so your hands are slightly closed, but not gripped tightly so that that you want to send that tension, All the way up your arms into your shoulders.

The written word may seem rather odd; all I would say to you is go out and experiment with it because I think you may be shocked at the impact.

I even go as far as relaxing my eyes in the respect that. When we’re tense, we tend to go into a very tight level of focus. For example, in terms, of our survival mechanism historically, if a sabre-toothed Tiger was chasing you. You don’t need to know what’s happening in the wider picture around you; you need to be really focused on the Sabre-toothed Tiger!

However, if you spend your whole day or even your whole life in that state, that’s a more stressed state; actually, the more relaxed state is to relax your eyes to a point where you can start to be aware of things in your peripheral vision more. So obviously, you might not want to do this on a very complex trail. But say you’re running down a straight road. If you’re finding that your vision is very tunnel vision, make yourself more aware without moving your head to the left or the right. What’s in your peripheral vision.

This will actually impact your whole body and start to relax your whole body; you know, again, I know this might sound a bit left field. Still, it is based on a lot of science, and you will find if you experiment with this that it does impact your tension levels, and if you’re more relaxed, then your running form will improve from that relaxation.

Build Up The Strength Of Your Hips And Glutes

I don’t know how many times in so many articles I’ve had to use the word strength train, but here it is again. If you want to improve your running form, you’ve got to look at core strength training, looking at your glutes, and really, particularly your hip and waist area; there’s a lot written about running form about having this running leaning forward body shape and a lot of people mistake this for running, leaning from the hip. And this actually creates bad running form because you want to be fairly upright when you’re running; the lean actually comes from your ankles.

So it’s almost if you can’t have that lean it’s an ankle, lack of ankle mobility, that’s the problem. But as we age, or even younger people, where we sit down for so long, our hip and waist areas are less mobile. As I said earlier, the problem with this is that this can create problems downstream towards our knees and ankles or upstream towards our backs.

So if you want to kind of have good running form. Then, freeing up your hips and making sure your glutes are in tip-top condition will have a massive impact on the success of your running, generally.

Remember Your Arm Swing

I’ve alluded to it earlier, but don’t forget your arm swing. Your arms are vital, I think; hey, runners are very much the reverse of weightlifters ignore their legs and build their arms and runners, ignore their arms and build their legs.

The problem is, is that because of what I’ve said earlier, everything is interconnected; having weak arms actually can have an impact on your running form. So, actually making sure that you’ve got good shoulder mobility, good use of your arms, perhaps, when you’re doing your strength training, working your arms as well, so that when you use your arms in your running, they are actually helping you to propel you forward.

Just make sure when you run that your arms aren’t just coming across your body and creating a situation where it’s shifting your body from side to side because that’s not going to be good for your running form.

Bouncing Up And Down.

Bouncing up and down too vigorously can impact achieving the correct running form. Because the fact is your feet when running is in a continual cycle as you run. Somebody once told me running is a bit like hopping now obviously, if you suddenly started to get people to hop when they run, it might look a bit odd, but the principle is very accurate in the respect that at any one time where your feet isn’t propelling you forward is wasted time. So if you’re bouncing really up in the air, I don’t mean 20 foot off the ground, but in effect, bouncing upwards inefficiently, that is wasted time that your feet can be propelling you forward.

And this really comes back to this cadence. If you are bouncing, then your cadence will be lower. Whereas if you have this cycle where one foot as it cycles through and back. The next foot is coming through, and you’ve got this continuous cycle of the economy. You will find that your cadence is fairly high because, at the top, your feet are working all the time, and this is where the hopping analogy comes in, And this is why a lot of great running exercises tend to be on one foot, because in effect, quite often, you are technically running on one foot. You very rarely have both feet down simultaneously because if you did, you would stop, or it would slow you down; it would be like a stop-start scenario. So the more that you’re on one foot, the more fluid you’re running is

Conclusion

So I hope you found this article really interesting on running full as I say, don’t get too bent out of shape about running form just become aware of it and perhaps become aware of the areas where you’re weakest, some resources that I think would be excellent if you want to know more about running form is the lost art of running, which is an excellent book by, find out who offer is. And the running reborn membership, which is I think about £30 a year as of writing this article, and it’s got loads of videos on how you can improve your running form. For £30 a year, I think, is an absolute Tip Top excellent investment if that’s the area you want to go in.

is runners high a myth

I am a 57-year-old runner that is determined to give ageing a good run for its money :)
Running has given so much, from running 10Ks, marathons, and ten marathons in 10 days.
In this blog, I want to help other runners get better and get the secondary benefits of running: more energy, improved mood and functional fitness.

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