I love fitspiration photos – they always hype me up to get off my but and work up a good sweat!
Running is one of my major achievements that I’m so proud of – working my way up from being unable to run for one minute without collapsing to running 10kms was such a hard thing to do and when I look back at this, I know if I can do that, I can do anything!
There was a long learning curve in understanding how to run properly without getting injured and I want to share some of the things I’ve learned with you! Please keep in mind, though, that I am not a professional runner or certified fitness trainer in any which way. I’m just an amateur runner who wants to share some of the things I’ve picked up along my journey and what works for me may not necessarily work for you. I also advise consulting with a medical or fitness professional before making any changes to your current routine.
Now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk running form! : )
Having good running form is super important, especially when it comes to staying injury-free while running.
These are some of the things I learned about keeping a good running form when I first started out:
Head, neck, back and core: Do the old trick of visualising a string running up your spine and up out of the top of your head, pulling you straight like a puppet. This automatically helps keep your back and core straight – make sure to keep your core strong and gut tucked in, not hanging out! And the string visualisation will also help keep your neck straight so you don’t end up looking down at your feet all the time – always keep looking to the horizon as you run to help prevent a slump.
Watch out for those slumps! I know it’s all to easy to let your posture go and slump when you’re getting tired towards the end of the run – I’m such a major culprit of this! – but keep checking your posture as you run and keep strong, tall and beautiful all the way till the end – that way you’ll work all the proper muscles and maintain great running posture, thereby diminishing the chances of those annoying injuries!
Shoulders, arms and fists: Yep, I too once thought that I should pump my arms up close to my chest and clench my fists tight while I’m running. In fact, all this will do is serve to tense up my muscles and tire me out more than necessary. Instead, I learned that the best thing to do is keep my arms low and loose with my hands at waist level. Never pump them up across the front of your body. Keep your fists in a loose clench, almost as if you were cupping eggs in your hands. And keep your shoulders loose and low too. Anytime you find your fists clenching tight and your shoulders creeping up to your ears while running, shake your arms and shoulders loose to get rid of that extra tension.
Keep soft: As in most forms of physical activity, too much tension only serves to worsen our form. Keep knees, jaw, shoulders and fists soft and relaxed while running.
Feet: Practice running softly and silently to avoid too much impact rocking your knees and ankles. Some running coaches recommend running drills where you practice running back and forth at short intervals as lightly and silently as you can – no pounding the pavement! Don’t overextend your leg but aim to land with your foot under your body, not ahead of it.
Ball, heel or toe? When I first started running, I used to try and be really conscious of whether I was hitting the ground on the toes, balls, or heels of my feet and experimented with all three to see which was better. And to be honest, I still can’t really tell you which of these I’m striking down with first.
I know there’s a lot of debate over which is the better one, but I honestly don’t think there’s any right way because every runner hits the ground differently. It just matters which one works best for you. Try experimenting with all three and listening to your body to decide which suits you best. Or maybe don’t think too much about it at all – once I actually got myself fitted out with proper running shoes and started running outdoors, I found that my injuries went away and that’s all that really mattered.
These are all the things that work for me and please always keep in mind that I am not a professional runner and these observations are gained from personal experience – plus lots of research about running on the net! For other great articles on keeping good running form, check out these articles:
And Live Strong has a great series of articles on the proper techniques for running.
Good luck – and run tall! : )