4 Running Form Fixes for Beginners
May 4, 2013 | Joe Lopez
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Running seems like an easy skill. However, running with no concern for form will limit your chances of competing in a race. Correct your running form before it's too late for a long-distance event.
Correct Your Posture
A tall upper-body posture will improve your running efficiency and help you breathe correctly. It's important to keep your chest open and your shoulders pulled back. Avoid the temptation to lead with your shoulders. Instead, keep your pelvis forward. It should be the first part of your body to cross the finish line. "Clawing at the ground" is what propels you forward, not driving back as if starting from a sprint.
To ensure tall posture, strengthen your body. Specifically, focus on your glutes, lower back, shoulders, lats and traps. Also, practice running form drills in front of a mirror to help you learn how your body feels in the proper running position.
Lower-body mechanics take more effort to correct, but the effort pays dividends. In particular, do not overstride. This form error occurs when your foot lands too far in front your hips, often preceded by a heel strike. It causes a braking motion that slows you down and can result in joint injury over time.
Instead, make contact with either your midfoot or the ball of your foot just slightly ahead of your hips. (Learn more about foot strike position.) You will avoid braking and it will keep you lighter on your feet, which eliminates stress on the joints.
Increase Your Stride Rate
Focus on foot turnover speed rather than long strides. As you flex your knee behind you, flex your hip to bring your trailing ankle to your front knee before taking your next stride. Your feet will turn over faster and you will maintain a balanced center of gravity.
Strengthen Your Core
Believe it or not, core strength is critical for proper running form. It minimizes unnecessary movements and keeps you stable, which improves running efficiency. It also helps you maintain your form over a long duration, so fatigue doesn't cause you to slow down.
Improve your running core strength with stability exercises such as this Plank circuit.