The Runner’s Technique Checklist
Athletes in every sport devote enormous time and energy to perfecting and fine-tuning their sport-specific technique. Without continual improvement of technique and an ongoing quest for perfect ‘form’, the athlete will never reach their true athletic potential. Nor will they ever perform at their optimal level.
Irrespective of the sport or game, technique improvement must be a continual and ongoing focus. Consider a tennis player or golfer, and the number of hours they practise hitting balls and refining their technique. The very best tennis players and golfers in the world hire coaches to give them continual feedback on their technique and performance.
We all want to run faster and most people train with this focus – largely and sadly ignoring their running technique, and how it could be improved. Very few runners ever schedule a ‘practice session’ to improve their technique. Recreational and amateur runners will openly confess to seldom giving their running form or technique a thought.
Instead, pulling on the running shoes and heading off for a run, concentrating on the training distance at hand, is the normal cognitive process for most runners. The focus is on the more traditional methods to improve their running speed and fitness: either logging more kilometres, or ‘training harder’ at a greater intensity.
Seldom is running thought of as a learned skill. Ignoring the importance of technique in a run training program may appear to be nothing more than a small oversight. After all, we can all run, correct? We’ve been doing it for almost as long as we could walk. However, how we run ‘naturally’ doesn’t necessarily make it ‘correct’. Because you have been running since childhood, you may not realise that you can actually change the way you run.
The concept of being deliberate about ‘how’ we run isn’t a natural one. Many people believe that runners have their own unique style of running, with some runners naturally looking better than others. Not recognising that there is skill in the technique of the better runners is a common error.
Running requires a delicate mix of control, balance, stability, timing, and arm and leg co-ordination. Better runners do not just have natural gifts, they also spend time focusing on their running technique. Although running does occur naturally, running with great technique must be practised and it can be learned.
The problem for runners who ignore their technique is that continued running with poor technique over time will likely culminate in injury and lost potential in their running performance.
A runner without any knowledge of good running technique will experience greater loads on their body, run with less efficiency and therefore run more slowly than they otherwise could. So doing a ‘stocktake’ of how you run (your running technique) is an imperative step in running pain and injury free, and faster. Once you discover how you are running, the focus moves toward running with more efficiency. Running with more efficiency will reduce adverse loads on the body and promote improved performance.
Below are my top DO’s and DO NOT’s when it comes to running technique.
|Run @ cadence 90 foot touches/minute (single leg)||Take bigger strides to speed up!|
|Have foot land directly under the knee (don’t overstride and put the BRAKES on!)||Bop up and down|
|Project forwards + upwards||Hold hands, and shoulders tight-RELAX!|
|Minimise bopping up and down-run smooth!||Allow elbows to or hands to cross across midline|
|Minimise foot strike time||Have a lot of side to side movement|
|Keep hips level and stable!||Allow elbows to come further forwards than your elbow|
|Run with a ‘light feel’||When running downhill lean back|
|Keep shoulders down, arms and face relaxed||Land heavy|
|Keep elbows at 90deg bend||When running uphill fold forwards at the hips|
|Relax your hands and wrist|
Think ‘Easy, Light, Smooth & Fast!’