Running Form Tips
In distance running, improving running economy through proper form can make a huge difference concerning injury prevention, pace, and efficiency. Below are a few tips to help keep you moving. Try to only implement one or two of these at a time, as a sudden wholesale change to your usual running form could cause injury.
Posture: Try not to over-complicate the gait cycle. Tuck in your chin and keep your head level. You should aim for a slightly forward lean. Too forward of a lean can cause over-compensation and anterior pelvic tilt, where your pelvis rotates too far forward. When you lean slightly forward, think about keeping your hips forward and underneath you.
Cadence: A lot has been said about cadence, and it used to be that 180 was the desirable cadence no matter the pace. Cadence is the amount of steps we take per minute. In recent years, studies have backed off of this a bit, and as long as you’re aiming to be in that 170-180+ range depending on pace, you should be good to go.
A faster cadence prevents overstriding. When we overstride, our feet are landing in front of our knees and hips. It’s a misconception to “stride out” when you want to run faster as this can actually cause a breaking mechanism. A quicker cadence and shorter stride length help us focus on our feet striking more underneath our hips, which can lead to more efficient foot strike. Cadence can be individualized to each runner.
Footstrike: Cadence and footstrike go hand in hand. If you were to focus on one, it should first be cadence to ensure your foot placement is closer to underneath your hips. When we do this, it helps minimize our heel striking. Midfoot to forefoot striking becomes more natural. Landing slightly on the lateral (outer) side of your midfoot and rolling that foot through the big toe will help with a natural, efficient gait cycle.
The Pringles Trick: On your next easy run, go out with two Pringles. Hold one in each hand between your middle finger and thumb. The goal of the exercise is not to break the Pringles. This teaches us to relax our upper body and encourages us not to clench our fists.
Arms: Relax your arms. Keep them bent at around a 90 degree angle and comfortably tucked to your side. When you’re descending a steep, uneven hill, try widening your elbows away from your body for balance. When you’re on flat ground, try to keep them closer to your body. Try not to cross the center of your body when distance running.
Swing Phase Tips: One last tip to think about is to increase the wheel of your foot through your swing phase. This episode of the podcast with Tim Ferris and Ryan Flaherty linked here will give you tips on how to increase your wheel and in turn your speed.
With the emphasis placed on form and technique in nearly every other sport, it’s interesting that most runners are quick to accept that their form is their form. But in actuality, and as studies have shown, just a few tweaks to your form will keep you running faster, and healthier, for longer. If you have any questions on running form, or running in general, feel free to reach out to Luke at firstname.lastname@example.org or Garrett at email@example.com.- Words by Luke Tormoehlen