Becoming a runner is not just about getting into good habits. It’s also about losing bad habits, and that includes many of the little quirks that make your running style unique because those ‘quirks’ could prevent you from running to your best ability.
Running is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. At least, that is the commonly held view. In fact, if you were to watch 100 runners, you would see 100 completely different ways of moving. There is no perfect running form or even anything that could be truly described as normal. Instead, individuals develop their own running style based on body shape, learned habits and, to an extent, the speed and distance they are running.
There is a limit to the extent to which you can change your running form since most of your movements are made without conscious thought, but there is also a limit to how much you would want to change. After all, your body has developed a running style to deal with its own particular quirks, and even a style that looks unnatural and uncomfortable is not a problem unless it causes injuries. However, thinking about your form can help you run more efficiently.
Your leading knee should drive up high so that your thigh is parallel to the ground (or perhaps slightly higher). The lower part of the lead leg should stay tucked neatly under until your knee is high, then push down quickly to the floor. Your foot should not land too far ahead of you, but should be close to being underneath your body as you run,
Your pelvis should be in a neutral position, that is, neither tilting forward nor sticking out backward. It should remain fairly still during running, without moving up and down or twisting from side to side. Lack of stability in the pelvis is the root of many running injuries, as muscles around the pelvis and in the legs can easily be overworked when trying to keep your hips still.
The middle of your body, the torso, should always be strong and static as you run. Your abdominal muscles should naturally tense up to stabilize your body, but try not to squeeze these muscles. There should be no twisting from the waist.
Arms and Shoulders
The action of your upper body, and in particular of your arms and shoulders, has a surprisingly high impact on your overall running efficiency. Your shoulders should always be relaxed, positioned down and back so that your chest is open and you can breathe easily. Your elbows should be bent to about 90 degrees, and your arms should swing back and forth (rather than across your body) in time with the movement of your legs, this can help keep your leg speed and rhythm up.
Head and Neck
Your neck should be long and relaxed, and you should be facing forward, looking straight ahead. Your face should also be relaxed. Scowling, grimacing or grinding your jaw may seem inevitable during a hard run, but any movement, however small, wastes energy and has a knock-on effect, making your neck and shoulders tense too.