A few tweaks to your running style can reap major rewards when it comes to mileage, injury prevention and even speed. It’s probably easier than you think.
“Paying attention to your form will help you be more economical — meaning, you’ll use less energy to run at a given pace,” says USATF-certified run coach and 2:39 marathoner Jason Fitzgerald, founder of Strength Running.
Here, Fitzgerald details five easy ways to improve your form and avoid common running mistakes:
LAND WHERE YOUR DNA DICTATES
“Instead of landing on your forefoot, as commonly promoted, you’ll be more economical if you land on the part of your foot that’s dictated by your speed and genetics,” Fitzgerald says. Altering that simply shifts the force of your landing — which can lead to form breaks elsewhere in the body, not to mention potential injuries.
READ MORE > A RUNNER’S GUIDE TO INJURY PREVENTION
PLACE YOUR FEET UNDERNEATH YOU
“When you place your feet directly under your center of mass, it prevents over-striding,” Fitzgerald says. Taking too big a stride not only wastes energy, but it can also lead to hard heel-striking — which means extra jarring on knees and hips.
FOCUS ON CADENCE
Believe it or not, cadence — the number of steps you take in a minute — relates to your form. Do too many and your stride could be short — run too few, and you could be bounding. “The original rule to ensure proper body economics was to aim for 180 steps per minute, but it’s better to adjust your cadence based on your running level to ensure your best form,” Fitzgerald says. He recommends slower runners (those who pace over a 10-minute mile) run 165 steps/minute, and faster runners do more than 170 steps/minute.
KEEP A TALL BACK
“Most runners think it’s natural to lean forward from the waist while running,” Fitzgerald says. “The proper lean actually comes from your ankles — something most runners aren’t ready for. Instead, think about running with a tall back (good posture) — and the forward lean will take care of itself.”
READ MORE > WHY CHANGING YOUR RUNNING STRIDE IS UNNECESSARY
REDUCE ARM SWAY
“Most of the time, the arms are moving naturally with the legs,” Fitzgerald says. “But try to avoid a cross-over arm carriage — a common running mistake. Arms shouldn’t be swinging back and forth across your midline, nor far out ahead of your body.”