Okay, so it may be a while before you can run like a champ. But, perhaps you just want to learn how to run with reasonable technique so that you do not get hurt! In fact, running with good technique can help you stay injury free, can help you run more efficiently, and even run faster. Here are a few tips to help you run with good form. Maybe with time, these will help you run like a champion.
Relax you say? I am killing myself, and this guy is telling me to relax. That is right! The fact that your legs, heart, and lung are working overtime is even more reason to relax the rest of your body. Your hands should be slightly open, and your jaw and other parts should be relaxed. Also, try to relax the muscles in your legs while in mid-stride. Think of all of the energy that you could save just by relaxing while you run.
My mom always told me to quit slouching and to sit up straight. I did not know that this would help me to be a better runner, though. But having a good posture is important. You want to try to run so that your head is directly over your hips. If not, then your body has to adjust to carry extra weight from you being out of alignment.
You may be thinking: who cares about posture? But if you continue to run with poor posture, you may have pain or injury to you body. Eventually, your body will tell you that it does not like what you are doing.
Your stride length is how far you extend your legs each time you step. You may have a short or long stride, both of which can be a bad thing. If your stride is too long, then you may create added stress to your hamstrings and other muscles. If your stride is too short, you could cause injury as well.
Your stride rate is how fast you move your legs. In different terms, it is the number of times that each leg moves in one minute. Most really good runners have a fast stride rate of about 180 strides per minute. While you may not be an Elite runner, you can try to adjust your stride rate. Doing speed work can help with your stride rate.
Heels or Toes?
Do you land on your heels, the ball of the foot, or on the middle of the foot? Many of the elite runners actually land on the middle part of the foot or on the ball of the foot. If you land heel first, there is a chance that you are actually putting the brakes on each time you hit the ground. Go out and try to play with your landing during an easy run. Either way you land, be careful. Running too far on the ball of the foot can lead to injury if done improperly. You may just want to try to focus on landing more on the middle of the foot, which will decrease the braking effect, and may also help reduce injury.
The Gait Debate
Your gait or pronation is how your foot tilts when you run. There are three kinds of pronation. You can have a neutral pronation, Under-pronation, or over-pronation. If you have more wear on the outside edge of your shoe, you under-pronate. If you have more wear on the inside edge of your shoe then you over-pronate. Don’t worry, if you have an over or under pronation, then you are not alone. Many people have this problem, and there are things you can do to help.
Your gait is affected by your body mechanics and weight. Unfortunately, it is hard to physically change your gait if you do not have a neutral pronation. Two things that can help your gait include buying the right shoes and using shoe inserts (orthotics). It is worth the money to go see a sports doctor who can give you recommendations on the right shoes, and whether you need inserts.
Your arms should not be a burden when you run, but should help you. Your arms help to balance, and can actually give you a slight increase in speed. If you pump your arms slightly when you run, then you can get a 1% bump in your running speed. In addition, your arms can help establish a pace. For example, if you want to make yourself increase your stride rate (and thus pace) pump your arms faster, and your legs will follow. The key is to keep your arms relaxed, and pump them like you are swinging a hammer. Just bend at the forearms, and slightly at the shoulder.
First of all, do not worry too much about which orifice to bring the air through. I have heard that you should breath in through the nostril and out through the mouth. The reality is that it is fine to breath in and out through both the mouth and nostril. If you are running properly, you will need all the air you can get! the other thing to keep in mind is to relax the diaphragm when you run. This can help to prevent runners cramp. You will know you are breathing through the diaphragm when the belly rises and falls when you breathe.