Is there such a thing as a good and a bad running technique? Yes, definitely, but it’s not always easy to spot. A good technique can be defined as a way of running, which gives the highest possible speed with the least use of energy and effort.
Here you’ll find 3 simple technical tips and checkpoints that are relevant to those who run and wish to run even better.
How the foot hits the ground relatively to the hip has a lot to say for how fast you can create motion and power forwards in the next run. If the foot is placed in front of the hip, you will in practice slow the body and “new speed” (acceleration) will not be created until the foot has passed the hip. This causes you to use a lot of effort to literally slow your speed.
So you’ll spend a lot of effort on achieving the same speed again in each step. In addition to the fact that this is a waste of effort, you also spend a more extended period on each step because of this.
Try to hit the ground with your foot just in front or under your hip, driving the body in the right direction, as always, with the least waste of force. You can try to increase the stepping rate as you run. Increased frequency means slightly shorter steps but also leads to less braking.
You should preferably not sink into the hip joint (“sit”) while running. If you are able to get your hip up and forward (stretch hip), you automatically use less time. If your hip sinks to the side every time you hit the ground, you definitely need longer to move your body weight forward – in each step – than you would if you get your hip more comfortable.
A trick that makes it easier to avoid this is the hip technique: it is to move your arms up and forth so that you get a rotation that leads your hip forward.
A strong core (stomach and lumbar spine) helps you to keep your hip position without waving to the side. Running in reverse is a good way to practice your running technique. Try to lean forward while at the same time pulling your feet forward.
Stability. One of the key factors for running efficiently is to avoid waste of effort. Running is about making your body the fastest possible moving forward. Rotation and lateral motion will be factors of failure. When the “opposite” arm and leg (e.g. right arm and left leg) are advanced, it counteracts rotation in the upper body, so that the movements can take you as far as possible.
An easy test: Put on your pants with pockets. Place your hands in your pockets and run. You will soon notice that your body rotates sideways. You’ll probably also struggle to keep the balance, at least if you run fast. The arms give you stability if used right. They will “offset” the body’s rotation so you can run steadily.
The greater the speed, the greater the need for stabilizing arms. Just look at the movement of sprinter’s arm compared to those of a marathon runner. The sprinter brings the arms higher up and forward and farther back due to high speed and forces that pull towards the sides. The long-distance runner has lower speed and thus “smaller” arm movements.
You can exercise your core stability by increasing the the amplitude of your arm motion. While running, have your hands almost touching your chin and then swing them all the way to your back. If you are running slowly you will hardly notice the stabilizing effect the arms have on your body, so run at a little faster to make sure you see the difference. However, you shouldn’t run while excessively contracting the core muscles.
If you record your running, you can easily check and assess your running technique. Watch yourself in slow motion and evaluate the following points:
Take these tips and EVOlve in your next run.
Personal Trainer Halvor Lauvstad from EVO Norway
Halvor studied at NIH and has been a product manager at SATS and general manager of Norsk Fitness. He has written a series of books about training, including “Best in Birken”. Currently, he is lecturing for AFPT in Norway.