Is there such a thing as a good and a bad running technique? Yes, definitely, but it’s not always easy to spot. A good technique can be defined as a way of running, which gives the highest possible speed with the least use of energy and effort.
Here you’ll find 3 simple technical tips and checkpoints that are relevant to those who run and wish to run even better.
1. Do not brake – power-up!
How the foot hits the ground relative to the hip has a lot to say for how fast you can create motion and power forwards in the next run. If the foot is placed in front of the hip, you will in practice slow the body and “new speed” (acceleration) will not be created until the foot has passed the hip, this causes you to use a lot of effort to literally slow your speed.
So you’ll spend a lot of effort on achieving the same speed again in each step. In addition to the fact that this is a waste of effort, you also spend a more extended period on each step because of this.
Try to hit the ground with your foot just in front or under your hip, driving the body in the right direction, as always, with the least waste of force. You can try to increase the stepping rate as you run. Increased frequency means slightly shorter steps but also leads to less braking.
2. Hip up and forth!
You should preferably not sink into the hip joint (“sit”) while running. If you are able to get your hip up and forward (stretch hip), you automatically use less time. If your hip sinks to the side every time you hit the ground, you definitely need longer to move your body weight forward – in each step – than you would if you get your hip more comfortable.
A trick that makes it easier to avoid this is the hip technique: it is to move your arms up and forth so that you get a rotation that leads your hip forward.
A strong core muscular (stomach and lumbar spine) helps you to keep your hip position without waving to the side. Running in reverse is a good way to practice this. Try to lean forward while at the same time pulling your feet forward.
3. The arms compensate for rotation
Stability. One of the key factors for running efficiently is to avoid waste of effort. Running is about making your body the fastest possible moving forward. Rotation and lateral motion will be factors of failure. When the “opposite” arm and leg (e.g. right arm and left leg) are advanced, it counteracts rotation in the upper body, so that the movements can take you as far as possible.
An easy test: Put on your pants with pockets. Place your hands in your pockets and run, then you soon know that your body rotates sideways. You’ll probably also struggle to keep the balance, at least if you run fast. The arms give you stability if used right. They will “offset” the body’s rotation so you can run steadily.
The greater the speed you have, the greater the need for stabilising arms, just look at the sprinter’s arm movement compared to those of a marathon runner; The sprinter brings the arms higher up and forward and farther back due to high speed and forces that pull towards the sides. The long-distance runner has lower speed and thus “smaller” arm movements.
You can exercise on good core stability by taking the arm motion to go from having your hands almost touching your chin all then swinging all the way to your back as you run. If you are running slowly you will hardly notice the stabilising effect the arms have on your body, so run at a little faster to make sure you see the difference.
You do not want to run while excessively contracting the core muscles. You can evaluate your technique by filming yourself and find out how the arms should work to make you run smoothly with your running style.
Are you running technically?
If you record your running, you can easily check and assess your skills. Watch yourself in slow motion and evaluate the following points:
- Do you tend front or back hip?
- How are the synopses when you land?
- Stretched up and forth in the kick out?
- Do you rotate a lot in your upper body while running?
- Is the core strength sufficient to compensate for the rotation?
- Are you looking forward or down?
Personal Trainer Halvor Lauvstad
Halvor studied at NIH and has been a product manager at SATS and general manager of Norsk Fitness. He has written a series of books about training, including “Best in Birken”. Currently, he is lecturing for AFPT in Norway.