How to find your best running form
How to find your best running form
by Emily Donker, intraining podiatrist, coach and triathlete
Everyone can benefit significantly from learning about, and practising, good running
technique. Developing good form encourages better motor patterning and muscle
recruitment, which in turn will improve your running efficiency and reduce the risk of fatigue
and overuse injuries, particularly with longer and more frequent running.
What is running form?
Running form doesn’t need to be complicated. There are three key concepts that running
form is based around:
1. Body position/posture
2. Foot strike position
The three concepts are closely linked and influence one another. For example, if you can
learn about good body position, you are much more likely to develop a good foot strike
position and cadence. Gaining a better understanding of the natural variation in these
concepts and how you can make changes (if you need to) is what we cover in our intraining
Running Form Workshops.
Your running posture
Running drills are great for developing specific simple muscle activation and teaching good
running posture. They will help you to feel how you are running and how your limbs and
body are moving through space. The progression of drills teaches good body position and
posture, coordination, strength and power. Over time, through learning and practising
specific drills, you will gain a much better sense of your own running technique and any form
faults that may develop as you fatigue.
Your foot strike
Developing a good foot strike position is all about where you strike the ground in relation to
your body’s centre of mass (COM). Regardless of whether you strike on the heel, midfoot or
forefoot, your foot should strike the ground underneath the body.
Landing in front of your COM is known as overstriding, and is a common form fault. It
creates braking forces, which slow you down and significantly increase the amount of force
transmitted through your joints, which in turn can increase your injury risk. Having a loud foot
strike can indicate overstriding, but may also be linked to other issues.
Ideal cadence (stride frequency) is different for everyone and is strongly determined by the
length of your limbs, but is also affected by other factors. Essentially your cadence should
remain relatively constant, regardless of what pace you’re running. Your stride length should
be the factor that changes, and will be longer for faster running compared to slower running
if the same cadence is maintained. A common fault among runners is to maintain stride
length, and decrease (slow down) cadence as they fatigue. This increases the likelihood of
overstriding and developing injury.
Your speed and fitness
Generally, your running form is much better when running fast compared to running slowly.
Running slower increases ground reaction time and decreases your ability to generate
power from tension within the tendons (e.g. Achilles). This is why it can be better in some
cases to run faster when returning from injury, but you need to be cautious with load.
Running form also tends to worsen with fatigue. Being aware of how you run, and the form
faults that you tend to develop as you tire is very beneficial, because you will learn to identify
and feel when you are not running ‘properly’. You can also learn simple cues to help address
these form faults while out running. Learning about running form and practising running drills
is a great way to find out which drills resonate most strongly with you, and which help you to
develop cues to assist with maintaining your own running form.
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all running form
There are many different theories about the ideal running form or the best way to run, but in
reality there is no singular ‘right way’ to run that will suit everyone. What’s important is that
you learn about running form from experienced professionals with knowledge of running
biomechanics, and also of potential structural issues that may prevent certain movements
from being possible.
Why participate in an intraining Form Workshop?
The intraining Form Workshops are run by a team of podiatrists who are all runners
themselves and are experts in advising you on how to improve your running form while
minimising injury risk.
You’ll learn specific running drills, which will provide you with a better understanding of your
own running form and form faults, and help you to develop the confidence and skills to
adjust your form on the run for more efficient and enjoyable running.
Join us at the next intraining Form Workshop on 21 October. We can’t wait to see you there!