It’s very rare that anyone is taught to run, right? We learn to walk, then run, by just doing it which means over time we develop our own individual and unique running form.
Ans although I subscribe to the school of thought that there is no right way to run, I do also think there are things we can do to tweak and improve our running form.
Running form refers to the way you move your body while you’re running. It includes things such as your posture, stride, and arm swing. Good running form can help you run more efficiently, improve your speed and endurance, and also, importantly, reduce your risk of injury.
Some things to think about for good running form:
- Keeping your head up and looking forward in the direction you’re going
- Maintaining a tall posture with a slight forward lean from the ankles
- Land on the balls of your feet (if this is natural for you) and push off with your toes
- Keep your shoulders relaxed with elbows bent and close to your body, with a natural swing
- Try to take quick, light steps and avoid over-striding
It’s important to remember that everyones running form is unique to them and what works for one person may not work for another. If you think your running form could do with some evaluation or want to improve it, it might be helpful to work with a running coach, personal trainer or physical therapist who can assess your technique and provide guidance on how to make any necessary adjustments.
In the meantime though, here are some other ways that you can improve your running form:
Work On Your Strength Training
Strength training can be beneficial for running form in several ways. Strong muscles can help you maintain good posture and control while running, which can improve your efficiency and reduce your risk of injury. Strength training can also help you develop power and speed, in turn leading to performance improvements.
There are loads of ways to incorporate strength training into your running routine, and the specific exercises you choose will always depend on your goals and any weaknesses or imbalances you may have. Some exercises that may be particularly helpful for runners include:
- Lunges and squats to strengthen the legs and hips
- Planks and other core exercises to improve stability
- Plyometric exercises such as jump squats and bounding to develop power
- Upper body exercises such as push-ups and rows to improve arm swing and posture
It’s important to remember that strength training should be just one part of a well-rounded training program for runners. And don’t forget to allow adequate rest and recovery time between strength training sessions, as overtraining can lead to injury.
Focus On Your Core
Whilst overall strength training is good for runners, specific workouts focusing on your core will also help you to improve your running form. The core muscles, which include the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hips, play a key role in maintaining good posture and stability while running.
Strong core muscles from strength training help you maintain good form, help you run more efficiently and reduce your risk of injury.
Now I love a good core workout, and there are lots of different exercises you can do to strengthen your core. When I program my sessions, I try to hit up the admirals from all angles to ensure it’s a well rounded workout.
Some exercises that you can try include:
- Planks and side planks
- Russian twists and bicycle crunches
- Lunges with a twist
- Leg raises and flutter kicks
- Medicine ball slams and Russian twists
I cover all of these and more in my 30 minute core classes – one of which I’ve shared here on the blog for you to try – a 30 minute No Equipment Core Workout with video so you can follow along.
More Beginner Running Tips:
- Importance Of Monitoring Heart Rate When Running
- Choosing The Best Sports Bras For Running
- Tips To Avoid Running Injuries
- Essential Warm-Up Tips
- Ankle Strengthening For Runners
Practice Good Posture
I can’t stress this one enough, for running and daily life. Good posture will help you to maintain a natural, efficient stride and reduce energy expenditure.
It can also help you to maintain good form, which becomes especially important when you start to run for longer distances or more often. Again, this all contributes to helping reduce the risk of injury from running and keeps you comfortable.
If you work on your posture when training (e.g including these exercises specifically to improve posture) that will translate into your running form.
Before you head out for each run too, think about standing tall, relaxing your shoulders and keeping the arms relaxed. Also pay attention to your breathing and avoid hunching over so you’re able to utilise the whole of your lung capacity.
If you have a treadmill with a mirror, you can also have a look at your own running form. Or you can ask a friend to watch you or even video yourself running.
Footwear Affects Running Form
When it comes to choosing footwear for running, it’s important to find a shoe that fits well, provides adequate support and cushioning, and is appropriate for the surfaces you’ll be running on. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing your next pair of running shoes:
- Fit: Choose a shoe that fits well and feels comfortable. It should have enough room in the toe box to allow your toes to move and spread out, but it should not be so loose that your foot moves around excessively inside the shoe.
- Support: Look for a shoe that provides the right amount of support for your foot type and running style. If you have flat feet or overpronate (roll inward excessively), you may benefit from a shoe with more stability features. If you have high arches or underpronate (roll outward excessively), you may benefit from a shoe with more cushioning.
- Cushioning: Consider the level of cushioning you need based on your running surface and the distance you’ll be running. If you’ll be running on a hard surface or for long distances, you may want a shoe with more cushioning to help absorb shock and reduce impact on your joints.
- Surface: Choose a shoe that is appropriate for the surface you’ll be running on. If you’ll be running on trails, for example, you may want a shoe with more traction and a tougher outsole to handle the uneven terrain.
My CurRENT RUNNING SHOES:
It’s also a good idea to try on several different brands and models of shoes to find the one that works best for you. For example, my all time favourite trail running shoes are the Nike Pegasus Trail 4 GORE-TEX. They tick all the boxes above for me and are the most suitable for the terrain at my local parkrun.
I’ve tried other trail running shoes and they have literally resulted in me running much slower and being uncomfortable for my entire run.
Don’t forget that shoes wear out over time, so it’s important to replace them when they start to show signs of wear, typically every 300-500 miles or so depending on the shoe and your running style. But that’s just an excise to treat yourself when the time comes, huh?!
Thankfully, these are all pretty simple things you can do to help improve your running form. The biggest and most time consuming one being the addition of some strength training to your schedule.
If you want any support with this, get in touch as I offer Personal Training, online classes and on-demand programs that you can follow.
Got any other tips for improving running form?
Dylan Smith says
I liked how you emphasized the importance of listening to our bodies and not pushing ourselves too hard too soon. It can be tempting to try to do too much too fast, but taking the time to build a strong foundation of good form is key to becoming a better and more efficient runner.