Learning to run

Athletes in every sport dedicate enormous time and energy to perfecting their sport-specific technique. Without continual technique improvement an athlete will never reach their true potential.

We all want to be able to run faster or further and most people focus on this in their training while ignoring their technique. Few runners ever schedule time to practice and improve their technique. Running is rarely thought of as a learned skill. However, just because you can run, this doesn’t necessarily make your natural technique correct.

Running requires a mix of control, balance, stability, timing, and arm and leg co-ordination. Better runners do not just have natural gifts, they also spend time focusing on their technique.

Runners who ignore their technique and continue to run with poor technique will likely result in injury and lost potential in their running performance. Research shows that between 50-60% of runners are injured every year.

A runner with poor technique will experience greater loads on their body and run with less efficiency, therefore running more slowly than they otherwise could. Taking an assessment of your technique is an essential step in running pain and injury free as well as faster. Once you are aware of how you are currently running, you can begin to learn how to run with improved technique and more efficiency.

Below are the top DO and DO NOTs with regards to running technique.

When running:

Do

  • Run with a cadence of 90 foot touches per minute (single leg).
  • Land with your foot directly under your knee.
  • Minimise foot ground contact time.
  • Keep your hips level and stable.
  • Run with a light feel.
  • Keep shoulders down, arms and face relaxed.
  • Keep a 90deg bend at the elbows.

Do Not

  • Take bigger strides to speed up.
  • Bounce up and down excessively.
  • Allow hands to cross the midline.
  • Have a lot of side to side movement.
  • Land heavily.
  • Lean back when running downhill.
  • Fold forward at the hips when running uphill.