How to Run Properly and Nail Your Form

How to run properly

Are you pushing hard but still wondering why you’re not getting faster or pushing further in your runs? The truth is you might not be nailing your running form. For the pros precision is absolutely key when it comes to racing, whether it’s a speedy 10k or a slow, grinding ultra marathon. If you’re looking to get a PB in the coming months or you just want to avoid injury, then getting your form right is unavoidable. The intricacies of running biomechanics have long been debated but if you’re looking to understand how to run properly in four simple steps, then this is where to begin.

4 Ways to Nail Your Running Form

Posture

One of the most important reasons why we want to achieve the best running form possible is to improve our efficiency. If your running form is poor you’re going to be wasting energy and a fatigued body is one that misses PBs and gets injured easily. Keep your back straight but your shoulders relaxed and lean slightly forward. Research has found that leaning forward will reduce stride length, increase cadence and reduce injury.

Arms

If you want to conserve energy then you can’t allow your arms to flail. Instead, keep them straight and bent at a 90 degree angle. Drive back, moving only at the shoulder and allow your fingers to graze your hip. Finally, and this really is key, aim to keep any rotation in the top half of your body to an absolute minimum. Any movement or momentum needs to be driving you forward and twisting at the hip, waist or shoulders is going waste energy.

Feet

Foot strike style can vary from runner to runner, and there’s no problem with that. The three styles are heel, mid-foot and front-foot strike and most people will have a natural preference. There’s been plenty of discussion over the years about which foot strike is the most efficient and therefore the best, but many believe that your natural foot-strike will always be the most efficient for you as a runner. So if you can’t change your strike, what should you focus on? Make sure that your foot falls right under your centre of mass. Over-striding is a common running mistake that wastes energy and increases your risk of injury.

Head

As the heaviest part of your body your head can easily throw off your posture and dictate your run. When you’re tired it can be easy to let your head drop. But holding it high and keeping you chin level with the ground will help you to keep your chest open and breathe more easily. A dropped head will cause a curved back and shoulders, not what you want when you’re working on the perfect posture. Keep your eyes on the horizon – look up too high and you’ll put unnecessary strain on your lower back.

Now you know how to run properly you’ll be well on your way to your next finish line moment. If you want to make your training even more efficient check out our tips for how to recover faster between runs.

Why Strength Training for Runners is Important

For many running is attractive because of its simplicity. It doesn’t require much money or kit and it gets you outside and away from the gym. That’s why people are often disappointed to hear that strength training for runners is key if they want to run faster and further.

They shouldn’t be though. Strength training doesn’t have to be a chore, and once you’ve introduced it the benefits are plentiful. Here are just a few to whet your appetite.

Stronger Muscles and Joints

Let’s start with the obvious. Running, especially road running, is a high-impact activity that puts strain on your body and increases your risk of injury. Research has shown that running injuries are commonly caused by imbalances in muscle strength. So? Incorporate strength training into your routine and you’ll find your muscles and joints get stronger and more stable, reducing the risk of injury. Strength training will even help your bone health, offsetting the decline in bone mass that happens to us all as we age. 

You’re also going to be a more powerful runner the stronger you are. That means you’ll run faster. Bring on the PBs.

Better Running Economy

We’ve all been there. You’ve been running for a while, you feel fatigued and your form goes to hell. Your head has dropped, shoulders are hunched, arms are flailing. You know it’s bad for you, but your muscles are exhausted. Now imagine you’ve been strength training for a few months. Your core and back keeps you pulled upright, your legs and arms keep driving mile after mile and your head is up. Strength training is sounding pretty good now, right?

It isn’t just good form either. Strength training is going to boost your endurance and allow you to keep running for longer without getting tired or cramping up.

Improved Flexibility and Mobility

If you want to run well then your body needs to be able to move through the full range of motion that each stride requires. Nail mobility and flexibility and you’ll ensure that tight muscles and joints don’t hold you back. If the word ‘tight’ made you wince it’s probably because you know it’s also a one way road to injury. Strengthen your muscles and joints and your flexibility and mobility are going to improve too.

But we know what you’re thinking. People who lift weights are less flexible right? Not true. Sitting for long periods of tome, hunching over a desk and sitting in a chair that doesn’t support your back is more likely to cause inflexibility and poor mobility (thanks WFH). If this is ringing alarm bells with you then make sure you’re adding mobility exercises to your routine as well. Actually, we should all be doing that.  

Start Strength Training

Now you know some of the top reasons why strength training for runners is so important, it’s time to integrate it into your routine. By the way, strength training is any kind of exercise that uses resistance, whether that’s your own bodyweight, a resistance band or weights. So start small if you’re unsure and try a bodyweight workout a couple of times a week. We’d suggest squats and lunges for your legs, plank for your core and press-ups to target your upper body.

Try doing a workout on a day when you’re not running, but make sure you’re getting those rest days in and prioritising recovery too.