The secret to competing and winning long distance running competitions is maintaining the correct running form. Not only does this spell the difference between a great run and a poor run, but the proper form keeps you injury-free.
What is the Proper Running Form?
Your strides need to be quick and short, and don’t use your foot to reach forward because that can cause over-striding and lead to an injury. Your foot has to strike under your knee because if it’s front that could cause an injury: whether your forefoot or heels strikes the ground first is irrelevant provided your foot is under your knees.
A word about stride length: in an attempt to cover more ground and run faster, most new runners over stride. When you over stride, your leg is way out in front of your body and you hit the ground first with your heels. That’s not what you want: adjust your strides so you land mid or front foot with your body placed over your leg, allowing you to push forward.
How to Maintain the Correct Running Form Especially During Races?
Follow the basic posture above and also push up and off: this means as you run you need to concentrate on pushing up off the ground. Keep your elbows at a 90 degree or lesser bent, and keep your hands relaxed and under your chest.
Some runners try to match their strides with their breathing, but that’s almost impossible to do as your legs and lungs are not connected. It’s essential you develop a rhythm for your breathing but it really doesn’t matter if your breathing corresponds with the way your legs are moving.
If you can engage in a conversation while running long distance, it means you’re breathing right, but if you cannot talk, slow down your running until you recover your breath.
Make sure you’re wearing quality running shoes that can withstand the constant movement while providing sufficient protection. The Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoe is a good choice with its water resistant design and light weight, and you can also check out the ASICS Men’s GT-2000 3 Running Shoe as it has vertical gait flex groove that improves your gait.
One more thing: learn to relax while you’re running: this simply means running loose without losing form and avoid tension. It’s especially important to keep your lower body and knees tension free.
What is the Correct Running Form for Endurance Running?
Your head has to be in a neutral position with your shoulders back and down, and you looking straight ahead. Unless you’re running over rugged terrain and have to look down so you don’t trip over something, don’t look down because it will hunch your back and pull your shoulders. Your arms have to be set at 90 degrees as your arms swing forward and your elbow close to your body. Do not stick your elbow out because you’re going to waste energy when all your effort needs to focus going forward.
What is the Proper Running Form for Faster Running?
The form given above for endurance running is going to help you run faster, but there are a few other things you need to consider. First, your hands must never cross your midline and don’t do any forward punches because that negatively affects your gait.
During training, work out your abdominal muscles and glutes to build up your strength. The stronger your core is the easier you’ll find to remain upright while running, and this also keeps you from leaning forward off your hip, as that can cause injuries.
What is the Running Form for Uphill/Downhill Running?
If you’re running uphill, the basic rule is to keep your chest up and your head high and always look straight. Think of the hill as a road that’s rising up, all the while keeping your shoulders back. As you run, push up and off the terrain and don’t bend your waist. As you run uphill, don’t hunch over and keep your fists open and relaxed.
For downhill running, your torso needs to be upright while keeping your eyes straight ahead. Think of your downhill run as “falling but controlled”, and your nose has to be over your toes. Downhill running also requires soft steps so don’t use your feet to hammer the ground.