For runners that are just getting started, “proper” running form and technique is a common concern.
Good running form can help you run with more efficiency (i.e. you exert less effort), avoid injuries and run faster.
And let’s face it, nobody wants to look silly when they run and there has to be a “best” technique to run, right?
The best approach to improving your running form however, is not well known amongst beginner runners.
It’s not about how you swing your arms, what you do with your hands or even (gasp) whether or not your heel or midfoot strikes the ground first.
Who wants to think about all that crap anyway? Not me.
Running with good running form is easier to achieve than you think, but let’s get one thing straight.
THERE IS NO PERFECT RUNNING FORM.
We all have unique running styles and that is totally okay. Please do not try to copy the running form of a professional runner or anyone else for that matter. More than likely, you’ll be injured before you know it.
There is a “best” running form for you though and that’s what I am going to help you with below.
4 Simple Tips to Help You Run With Better Form
1. Run More
This is your winning lottery ticket. The more you run, the more efficient you will become. The result is improved running form.
Scientific studies indicate this as well.
“Self-optimisation is believed to be a physiological process that occurs as runners acquire greater running experience. Consequently, trained runners appear to have a more economical running technique than novice runners. A short intervention has shown that only 10 weeks of running exposure can lead to novice runners self-optimising their running technique and improving their running economy.”
This is a powerful statement.
Without even really thinking about running form, it will improve in time.
2. Run Tall
When you’re first getting started running, you’ll fatigue fast.
And when you’re tired, you get lazy. We all do.
What does this look like as it relates to running form?
- running hunched over, bending at the waist
- your shoulders are rounded inwards
The best way to think about running tall is to pretend someone is pulling your body upwards with a string. That’s really all there is to it.
You will notice in many experienced runners that they will appear to run with a slight forward lean. They are not bending forward at the waist – they are actually obtaining that lean from their ankles.
This is optimal, but for now, I want you to focus on running tall.
3. Get Your Butt Working
The muscles in your butt are the largest and most powerful muscles used in running. If your lungs are your engine, your glutes are your chassis.
Sadly, it’s common for our glutes to “fall asleep” and not activate properly when we run. Sitting for many hours a day is the main culprit.
Waking up your glutes is therefore, essential to improving your running form.
A good exercise to help strengthen and wake up your glutes is the glute bridge.
Lie on the ground with you knees bent. Raise your hips using your butt (really focus on this).
Hold this position for 15-30 seconds without letting your butt drop towards the ground. Repeat 2-3 times.
4. Increase Your Cadence
Cadence is your stride rate.
A higher stride rate will help you:
- land under your body instead of “reaching” and landing ahead of your body, which can actually slow you down.
- reduce the impact of each step, which will minimize the likelihood of injury.
And both of these factors will help you run more efficiently.
To calculate your stride rate, count the number of times your right (or left) foot contacts the ground in 30 seconds and multiply by four.
Most recreational runners fall between 150 and 170 strides per minute.
If you find yourself near the bottom of this range, look to gradually improve it (see the plan below to help you).
You might find that as you run more (and become faster), your cadence will increase without any conscious intervention. Another great reason to run more.
NOTE: It’s commonly thought that everyone should strive to run with a magical cadence of 180. I would ignore this advice as this number was taken from observing elite runners at the 1984 Olympics (i.e. fast runners). The faster one goes, the more steps they will take. To expect a recreational runner to have the same cadence at 6 mins/km as an elite runner at 2:55 mins/km is ridiculous. To read more on this, check out this article on Sweat Science: http://www.runnersworld.com/sweat-science/kenyans-cadence-and-ground-contact-time
A Beginner’s Plan to Implement These Running Form Tips
Total beginner or have not run at all in the last 6-months: Simply just focus on running with consistency for 8 weeks. Do the glute bridge exercise 3-4 times per week.
Weeks 9-12: Now start to pay more attention to your posture. Run tall. Ensure you’re not bending at the waist. And if you’re leaning forward at all, it should be from the ankles.
Weeks 13: Measure your running cadence (stride rate). Are you at 150 or less? Slowly look to increase it. Simply running more and getting faster might do the trick.
Your thoughts? What has helped you with your running form? Leave a comment below!
Beginner runner or just getting back into it?
Get my FREE 7-lesson email course to help you get started, lose weight and discover the enjoyment of running.
Hi there. Welcome back!
Did you know that I run a 30-Day None to Run Challenge every few months?