Running Form

So who said running was easy? It was on my run this evening home from work, that I got in the zone and mentally cycled through all those checks to improve my running form. And then I though, yeee, that is actually quite a list. Remember that day you put on your shoes, and just went for a run..?

Anyway I thought you might be interested in my running check-list. Remember, I am a fanatic Vibram runner, so my list is oriented towards running with minimalist shoes, mid-foot running, and so on.

I also though about the importance of certain ‘checks’ but in the end they are all important (at least to me), so here is the list in no particular order:

[dcs_ol bg="false" type="decimal"] Relax. It is funny that, especially when we want to run fast, we tend to start to strain every muscle we have, specifically the ones around the chest and shoulders. Breath out and relax. You can get real shoulder cramps when running like a puffed up balloon.

; Bend The Knees. Now this is an important one, as we do it for two good reasons. the first is the knees function like shock absorbers. When the knees are bent (they should never be extended straight. Ever!) the majority of your landing weight is absorbed by the knees bending, which makes for a smooth ride. The second reason is, it enforces you to land with your feet under your body rather than in front. Regardless if you are a minimalist shoe wearer, you feet should never land in front of you. To practice, run slowly, and bend your knees until you think you look ridiculous. Now, bend a bit further and you are there!

; Straighten The Body. The body should be rather ridged and straight, but relaxes. Watch the shoulders from slumping. Ensure the hips are slightly pushed forward. Do not hunch backwards. There is quite some energy stored in the body that can be used to move forward. By bending the body anywere that energy gets lost and must be compensated for by the legs.

; Swing Those Arms. The arms should function like a counter balance for your legs. You should have your arms bend, and your hands should be swinging past your hips, or slightly higher when there is some hard work to be done. The should swing forwards and backwards. Definitely not sideways in front of your body. This will cause your body to rotate, which slows you down, and is a real burden on your knees. When pushing hard. like uphill, the swing should be strong. The energy should be in the backwards swing, and much less in the forwards. The push backwards, stretches your opposite leg as a counter action, given you an extra push forward.

; Breathe Deep. That is another of those things we often don’t think about. At least I don’t. When working hard you tend to tense your body (relax!). This goes together with short fast intakes a breath. To get a maximum of oxygen in your longs, needed for energy, you should engage deep breathing. Use your chest and your mid section to suck in that air. If you concentrate on this for a while, like three steps per breath, it becomes kind of a song in your ears. Keep going!

; High Cadence. Maybe this one should go to the top of the list. It is more than a year ago that I started working on my cadence with the help of some excellent running mixes. Before I just plotted along. You should try to achieve a cadence of at least 180 BPM. I actually think this is even to slow to obtain a nice smooth running movement. At the moment I feel good starting at 185 BPM. You know that you’re cadence is on track when your shoulders stop making that up and down bobbing motion. I feel there is a minimum and a maximum for every ones body. For instance at a 190 BPM, I start to make cramped movement, as if I have to force my legs forward in time. But then, that is what I though as well when I moved up from my joggy 165 BPM’s. It takes a lot of practice to become comfortable with a higher cadence. But once you are programmed, your efficiency and speed will improve!

; Lift The Heels. To gain speed, the best approach is all of the above and to lift the heels up, rather than clawing and pulling. Ideally, and this is very difficult to do consistently, is to start lifting the heel (foot) before it has landed! I hear you think ‘say what!’. But yes, by starting to lift the foot before it even landed builds up this tension in the leg that provides you with extra spring, and provides a very smooth run. If you nail this, your legs really feel like a set of wheels, and you are rolling forward. To practice this, think about if you are sneaking up to someone and don’t want to be heard. Almost for certain are you lifting the foot before it lands. Very difficult!!.

; Place Your Foot. Rather than letting your feet fall or drop on the ground, think about your foot landing, and ensure it lands nice ans softly. You are moving about because of your legs and feet. Just letting your feet stamp on the ground, wastes energy and certainly will cause some form of injury in the short run. When all goes well, you should experience a nice smooth and quite ride. [/dcs_ol] Do you have more Running Form tips? Let me know, and help improve our style!

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