Running Form: 3 Ways to Run More Efficiently

Whether you're hitting up the summer road race circuit or getting your fitness level up for team tryouts, everyone can stand to brush up on good running form and technique.  Avoid losing precious energy while running by making sure you are following these three tips for running more efficiently.

Get an Armload

If you’re not using your arms, then you’re carrying them around. In a leg-centric exercise, the arms might just seem like they’re along for the ride, but the arms are actually very instrumental in helping propel the body forward. The arms should be bent at around a 45 degree angle and should swing forwards and backwards from the shoulder without any side to side motion of the forearms. Think about poking something right behind you with your elbow, and then let your arm come forward naturally, without force.

boston_marathon_2009_-_leading_women 2

Notice how the women have a 45-degree angle with their elbow. Also Notice how their opposite arm does not come too far forward.

Rein It In

Often in an attempt to “try” harder, runners end up taking bigger steps in order to cover more ground. This typically results in over-striding, causing extreme heel landing, which in turn increases the amount of force traveling through the body. If you find yourself doing this, think about your foot landing more towards your body just slightly, and increasing the rate at which your feet are turning over. It’s like shifting down on a bicycle: by taking smaller, quicker steps, you’ll increase your efficiency and waste less energy getting from point A to point B. This is especially helpful to think about when running up an incline or when fatigue sets in mid-run and form begins to break down.

overstriding 2Your Mama Knows Best

Like most kids, your mother probably told you to stand up straight. Turns out mom knew what she was talking about. Too often, runners allow themselves to hunch over or lean too far forward, especially when fatigued. This is often a result of the hip flexors being too tight, and the glute muscles not being developed enough.  If you find this happening to you mid-run, remind yourself to “run tall”. As well, exercises like “Runner’s Touch “(shown below) is a great way to enforce proper running form. Emphasize the glute muscles engaging to propel you into each subsequent step, and perform prior to heading out for your run. When you’re’ finished, end your runs with the lunge, a reverse form drill, to open up the front of the hips.

Check out the videos below for exercises to help alleviate excessive forward lean while running. Just no judging my inability to stay serious on camera! 

[embedit snippet="dynamic-warmup-video"] 

[embedit snippet="lunge-and-reach"] 

Sometimes the best way to correct inefficiencies or errors in running form is to review pictures and video of you running.  Ask a friend, parent or running coach take video of you while running so you can review your particular tendencies and make adjustments accordingly.

When in doubt, seek the assistance of your team coach or book a session with a private running coach to make sure your form isn't hindering you from running faster.

Image Credit:

#1 http://theeverydaytriathlete.com/omg-you-are-a-heel-striker-heres-a-surprise-its-no-big-deal/

#2 http://blog.iruninspired.com/tag/shalane-flanagan/

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