There are four essentials of good and efficient running:
- Establish comfort with a stride rate of 90 cycles (right-foot strikes) per minute. 90 strides per minute (spm). If your stride rate is less that 90, run drills of 30 seconds at 90 or more spm with a recovery of 30 seconds jogging. Over time, as you get more comfortable at the faster stride rate, increase to 1 minute at 90 = spm with a brief (15 second) recovery.
- Move the foot up & down on recovery; not backward & forward. Get the sensation of vertical movement of the foot, creating a shorter and faster arc on recovery.
- Land mid-foot, not on your heel. There should still be a quick “roll” from landing mid-foot to the push off on your toe. The “roll” will absorb some the shock and save your legs over the long haul. Landing mid-foot means less land time which translates to faster speeds. Also, landing on your heel applies a braking action which slows you down.
- Minimize bouncing. A 150 lb person, running a 10K race and bouncing 2 inches with every stride will have done the equivalent work of raising 84 tons on one foot over the course of the race!
Other elements of good running technique include:
- Your arms should rock back and forth, close to your torso. To get the correct rocking motion, think of your elbows rocking back and forth in a giant spoon, and your hands should be at chest height. Keep you hands closed gently, as if you were gently holding a butterfly in each hand.
- Look straight ahead, focus on a spot on the ground about 20 or 30 feet ahead of you. This head position helps keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Try to avoid the natural tendency to push back the shoulders which hyper extends the spine.
- For advanced runners, if you “tuck your pelvis” this will keep your spine straight and relaxed and it will also open up your hip flexors. This position allows you to raise your thighs higher and easier which translates to faster speeds.
To get a good critique of your running technique, it’s best to work with a coach who can watch your running form on a track or treadmill, and make suggestions for improvement. You can also practice these techniques on a treadmill in front of a mirror.