What Is GOOD Running Technique??
I’ve been coaching runners for over 15 years now and yet the number one question people ask me still remains the same: You mean we have to learn how to run? We can’t just take our walk and turn it into a run?
The answer is YES and no. Yes, we can learn to run properly and no, for most people it’s not a good idea to turn their walking gait into a running one.
And yes, it’s always possible to improve your running technique.
But how, and what exactly does that mean?
After all, there are plenty of people and even professionals in the health and fitness field who believe that people are born with a way of moving that’s unchangeable. Or that some people are “designed” from birth to be good athletes or not to be particularly athletic at all.
I’m not one of those people who believe what I just wrote above. After my 20 plus years in this field, I believe, and have seen it plenty of times with my own eyes, you can make substantial changes in your body and how you move, no matter what kind of a body you were given at birth.
And if running or fitness walking is one of the movement forms that you enjoy, then clearly, with practice, you can change and improve your running form!
In my Running Made Easy workshops we’ll cover ALL aspects of “good” running technique, but here are some to get you started thinking about them!
- Flexibility is important in running, but not the typical type of flexibility you might be thinking of. I’m not merely thinking of muscles being flexible. I’m including your joints, ligaments, and tendons, too. You want good range of motion in these areas.
- Posture will influence your running technique, perhaps more than anything. The quality of our posture, no matter what movement forms we enjoy, is essential for long term health, staying injury-free, and staying active and fit. As a Yoga teacher, people ask me about good posture and what that means. In general, I’d say good posture involves having a reasonably straight spine with not too much straightness and not too much bend. The more you slump, which some Yoga teachers call “slump-asana”, the more your body’s muscles need to work to hold you upright. Poor posture not only restricts the circulation of blood to your muscles and organs but also inhibits the oxygen supply to your brain.
- Over the years, discussions about cadence, as it relates to different sports, have become more common. It’s an important concept to understand whether on a bike or out for a run. Cadence refers to the number of strides you take per minute. Maintaining a cadence of 85-90 strides per minute with each leg is optimal. Using a metronome is a great way to regulate your cadence! If you don’t know what a metronome is or what it looks like, take a look. I’ve been using one and recommending them for years and they make a huge difference.
- No matter what sport or activity we discuss, we have to talk about LISTENING to your body. Even with the best technique possible, if we don’t learn to listen and interpret the messages our bodies send us, we often end up in pain or with injuries that could have been prevented.
- No change happens without some good mental focus. After all, it’s your brain that re-educates your body. Let’s not let all that neural power go to waste! It’s true that eventually there is muscle memory, but trust me when I say there is always some aspect of your running to improve that can use some mental focus first.
- Take a breath and let out a sigh! Breathing habits are key to better performance in all movement forms. I have fun watching babies breathe. They are, as we all were when we were babies, naturals at “belly breathing.” Don’t forget that oxygen is fuel so learning how to use our total lung capacity, especially when we run, is essential.
- Running relaxed will prevent injuries and in general offer you a more fun run every time. Running is to be enjoyed, not suffered through! If you find yourself tense or taking your training too seriously to the point that it’s adding stress rather than helping you release stress, it’s time to think about relaxing while running.
I hope I’ve given you some clues as to what good running technique entails and also convinced you that anyone can learn good running form no matter what level of running experience they are starting from! Learn more here.