July 29th, 2009 at 4:39 am
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Posted in: Training

Running form is a critical component of running well.  It takes effort to learn at first, but it ultimately makes running much easier (and less prone to injury).  Following are the 7 habits of highly effective running form.

Feet

Most runners land with their heel first and roll to the front of the foot.  This causes extreme braking forces in the body.  This slows a runner down and jars the body, which can lead to injury.  The heel touchdown also requires the foot to come down in front of the body, which further puts on the brakes.  The foot should be landing under the body rather than in front of it. 

 

Timing

The foot should spend as little time on the ground as possible.  A quick step allows for more spring, which moves you faster and reduces jarring on the joints.  You should also aim to be hitting the ground (with each foot) 90 times a minute or more.  There are devices you can use that work like metronomes to help you set this rhythm.

 

Posture

You want to do what coaches call running tall.  This means a straight line along your spine to the top of your head.  Stand against a wall to get a feel for this–many people are actually leaning back when they think they are straight.  A common form issue when running is to pull the head back, which restricts breathing and damages form.

 

Head

Be careful to not have the head too far forward or pulled back.  It needs to rest in a straight line with the spine–think about a string pulling you from the crown of the head.  The head is heavy, and if you get fatigued, you may let it come infront of your body.  This pulls on the shoulders and back, increasing the strain of running.  If the head is leaning back, it can also cause a braking force and throw you out of alignment.

 

Eyes

Looking down can cause you to run heavily.  This causes extra impact on your body and may cause injuries.  Having the head forward can cause slumping, which causes strain on the neck, shoulders and back.  It also tends to shorten the stride.  If you want to look at the ground, keep your head up and look only with your eyes. 

 

Arms

Some recommend the arms should be at 90 degrees, though the Pose Method recommends having a deeper bend than this.  All sources agree the arms should not cross the body.  This creates a side to side motion instead of front to back.  You want all of your forces moving in the same direction, or you are working against yourself.

 

Breath

Previously the recommendation was to belly breathe in order to get more air into the lungs.  However, it is critical to keep the abdominals engaged while running to protect the back and maintain form.  Expand the chest to take in optimal amounts of air.  There are conflicting views on nose breathing and mouth breathing.   One source recommends you get air in any way you can, which is quickest through the mouth.  Another school of thought suggests nose breathing is deeper, more calming and helps keep the heartrate lower.  The pace of breathing should be every two(harder runs) or three steps (easier runs).  This means you inhale, right, left, exhale.

 

Form can require a great deal of attention initially.  However, just like driving a car, it becomes second nature in time.  It is worth the effort to experience more comfort, fewer injuries, and greater speed.




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