10 ways to improve your running technique

Like everything we do in life, it is essential to repeat things in order to improve. But we still have to do things right! Here are 10 points that will help you improve your running technique.  

1. Look far ahead

Looking at the ground will only draw your body weight downwards and not forwards. A heavy, jerky stride (which will cause tension in the quadriceps) is obviously what we are trying to avoid! To do this, fix your gaze about 20 meters on the horizon to allow the upper body to remain "straight". And then, having a good posture is still more pleasant than being bent over and blowing like an ox!

2. Relax your shoulders

Running is not just about legs! The arms and shoulders also play a major role as they help propel the upper body forward. A bit like a catapult! Any muscular tension in the shoulders will therefore be harmful because it will block this mechanism and at the same time generate a body fatigue that will not be welcome.

3. Having the upper body sheathed

When running, avoid body swaying from right to left, fore and aft! Every unnecessary movement will make you lose a lot of energy in the end. Sheathing should therefore be part of your training plan. By strengthening your abdominal and back muscles, your posture, your way of breathing and your running attitude will allow you to run in a more physiological way.

4. Having a race cycle before

If you want to sit down, stay on your couch! But while running you grow to allow your lower body to adapt to a forward cycle. The leg that leaves the ground quickly returns under the buttock, the front knee rises high to allow a midfoot attack under the center of gravity.

5. Go forward and not upward

You are not a high jumper so it is important to keep in mind that your stride should be towards the horizon and not the sky. Without feeling like you are sitting down, your stride should be as low to the ground as possible in order to remain as efficient as possible and allow for a faster run cycle.

6. Having a midfoot attack

By placing the foot correctly under the centre of gravity, the body weight will naturally shift forward without consuming extra energy. A quick step on the ground will redirect energy forward. Compared to a heel attack (force vector will be redirected towards the ground and the back will therefore act as a brake), a midfoot attack will allow a forward running cycle and therefore a fluid cycle.

7. Have a rate of 180ppm

Taking big steps (as if you had flippers on your feet) or tiny steps (like a sparrow) thinking you can run faster, it's not true! On the other hand, you'll spend a lot of energy because your whole running cycle will be jerky. The smoothest and most economical stride is 180ppm (not per minute) on average. For your next race, have fun counting your steps!

8. Keep arms in line

When running, the elbows should keep an average angle of 90° and remain along the body to avoid any oscillation. Imagine drawing a vertical line that cuts your body in half. Your hands should never move to the opposite side!

9. Manage your breathing

If you are quickly out of breath, it is certainly at first that you went too fast, that your arms are perhaps badly balanced or that your posture is not adequate! Breathing while running is different than while walking and therefore it can be learned. Favouring abdominal breathing (stomach and lungs) will be more effective than chest breathing (just the lungs). Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while coordinating your breathing with your steps.

10. Wear appropriate clothing

It will be more difficult to run with heavy cotton clothes than with clothes made of so-called "breathable" material. We must therefore adapt to the climatic conditions around us. It is first of all essential to maintain a certain body temperature during a sporting outing and secondly, it is more pleasant not to sweat heavily or, on the contrary, to be cold. Running clothes containing polyester, elastane and polyamide are therefore highly recommended.

Perrine Evans

A former athlete and graduate in Sports Kinesiology from the University of Central Missouri (USA), I am passionate about biomechanical analysis of running and postural analysis.