“You’re looking good” is a frequently heard call from the sidelines. But go to the finish area of a local road race to watch the lead runners come in. It is always apparent that in the lead pack, as in the whole pack, there are some runners with great-looking form and some with ugly form. John Stanton, founder of the Running Room, encourages people to look past each runner’s form and instead notice the degree of relaxation. The lead runners are certainly fast but they also maintain a relaxed form, even under race conditions.
If you go down to a local track, the number one thing you will hear during a workout is: “Relax.” The coach will be making all kinds of points, but the basic message to the runners—no matter how hard they are pushing—is to relax. Runners pushing too hard see their form falter.
Here are some of the most common problems as well as some tips on how to improve them.
- Over striding: Increase the rhythm of your arm swing and concentrate on shortening your swing. Shorten your reach with each foot stride forward keep your turn over rate quick.
- Tightness in Shoulders: Learn to relax the palms of your hands. Your fingers should be loose, so make sure you do not grip a fist as you run. Cup your hands with your thumbs on top.
- Knee Lift: Your knees should be lifted just high enough to clear the ground. Too high a knee lift wastes energy
- Arm Carriage: Holding the palms of your hands inward and slightly upward will keep your elbows near your sides. Your arm swing should be in the general area of your heart. Increasing your arm swing can help improve the turnover rate of tired legs.
- Too Much Bounce: Look at the horizon and concentrate on keeping your head in the same plane. Do some accelerations with an increased body lean. Focus on lower knee lift and try to think of reaching with your arms rather than pumping them.
- Perfect Form: There really is no perfect form. The important thing is to stay relaxed, stay rhythmic and push hard. Much of your running form is a gift from your parents, but you can make the most of your gift with some attention to fine tuning your individual form.