Proper run form: 4 basic tips

By Master Chief Petty Officer Robert Berry,
U.S.A. Track & Field, Cross Country Coach
2010-2012 Coach at Junior Olympics National Championship Meet

For a potential recruit I would recommend the following BASIC tips:

Feature and Article photoProper running form is a complicated concept to convey on a website. In summary, these four basic concepts should help a beginning runner improve their form:

1) Remove excessive body fat. Imagine, or actually try, carrying a 25 pound weight plate with you on a run or walk. The total energy required to move each additional, and unnecessary pound, takes a toll on an individual’s running performance – making them slower. Many of our recruits that struggle with the run are at or near their maximum allowable body fat. It is no coincidence that those with excessive body fat have a hard time meeting our run standards.

2) Tread lightly. Without access to coaching or a significant history of running, it is best for a new runner to develop a form that is relatively quiet. If you can hear that you are slamming your feet on the ground, your form is probably applying excessive stress to your joints. Depending on speed and cadence (how many steps per minute you take), the forces applied to your lower body through impact can reach twice the force of your bodyweight. These forces may lead to injury for a new runner.

3) Keep things moving forward. Don’t let your arms crossover your body when running forward. For example, your left arm, wrist, and hand should stay on the left half of your body as you run. You will notice that, when tired, it’s common to swing your arms side to side, instead of forward and back. Again, keep everything moving in the direction you are traveling. Don’t expend any energy moving any body parts to your left or to your right.

4) Run tall. Basically, you can avoid several common problems by keeping your head as tall as you can. Don’t lean too far forward or sit too far back in your running stance. Avoid excessive bouncing by running tall. Also, having a quick step (high cadence / turnover) will reduce the bouncing and reduce the force applied to your lower body. Over the course of several weeks, you can gradually move yourself “toward” 180 steps per minute while running.

Remember, It’s not JUST 8 weeks. Come Ready.

Important note: Please consult a physician prior to begining any physical training program. Be safe.

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