By Fabian Patterson
There is this craze notion about running, that in order to run better you just need to do it a lot. Although, there’s truth to that. There’s more that goes into running than the motion of picking up and putting your feet down faster. Things such as body position, form, to rotate or when to not rotate the hip, also foot placement. Where should your feet be when running.
To be precise, in order to run better you must first cultivate a good run form. So, without delay let’s jump into understanding what a good run form is.
To fully understand this, we will break the body down from the head to the feet.
With a good run form your head is neutral, sort of parallel to the ground. If you can see the horizon when you’re running this is one way to tell that your head is parallel to the ground. Neutrality releases tension in your neck. Another benefit of running with head parallel to the ground is that it prevents you from restricting your airway, which makes it a whole lot easier to breathe.
Moving on to the shoulders. Shoulder positioning is something that should be simple. But, shoulder positioning is one of the biggest mistakes people make when running. So many times, I see people running with their shoulders hunched over, only because this is their natural body position. However, we must understand that our lungs are located inside your rib cage, and running with rotated shoulders puts pressure on your chest cavities, which in turn restricts the full expansion of our lungs. So, it is imperative to practice and adapt running with your shoulders straight and back.
Positioning of our hands is next on the focus. There are so many different techniques that are being taught, and honestly most of them aren’t wrong. However, when it comes to positioning our hands the best practice is whatever is comfortable for you. Given that your hands are always relaxed and free from tension.
One way to achieve this is the egg method. Basically, closing your hands and gently placing the tip of your thumb. index and middle fingers together but, without applying pressure as if you were carrying an egg and not wanting it to break. You would also bend your elbows to the 90-degree position while allowing them to naturally swing back and forth.
Next, hip position. There are two distinctive forms when it comes to hips positioning. One, is with no rotation and the other, you guessed it is with rotation. But first, no rotation means your hips are stable underneath your upper torso. This form is typical for long distance running. It allows you to conserve energy so that you can run further – longer.
The second position is with rotation. This type of hip positioning when running is typically for shorter distance. This gives you the runner an extended range of motion, which allows you to cover more ground with faster left to right foot turnover.
Heading down to the positioning of your feet. There are a few things to keep in mind for this. (1) Keeping your feet directly underneath your body is important, because it prevents you from over reaching with your stride.
Let’s look at this closer. If you over extend one foot forward, this means the other foot is also over extended behind you, forcing you to waste energy to bring that foot back forward. (2) Keeping your feet directly underneath your body. If your feet stay directly underneath your body all you would then need to do is pick them up and put them directly back down without having to use more energy than needed.
Now, you’re probably wondering if I’m picking my feet up and putting them back down in the same position how do I go forward? Well, that’s where the next body position comes into play. Leaning forward.
When you lean forward gravity takes over and does what it does. You just then need to move your feet to prevent falling on your face. Which, your body will do automatically to prevent you from falling on your face. And in this instance, you will eliminate half the work that’s required to run. Remember, just lean forward and let gravity do the rest.
Finally, and most important – breathing. I’ve heard so many different techniques for breathing from breathe through your nose only; breathe through your mouth only; you have to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth; you have to take one breath every three steps and the list goes on.
I don’t know about you but, all that just seems confusing. Breathing is actually simpler than that. It’s as simple as doing what’s comfortable for you. If you breathe better through your nose only, then do that. If you breathe better through your mouth only, then do that. The only way to run further, longer is to build up endurance to running. You won’t do it by conforming to some un-natural breathing technique.
Don’t get me wrong when running you do want to do your best to maintain somewhat of a steady in and out breath to prevent labored breathing. Labored breathing is the number one reason why most people get tired early into running, and once your body uses up the oxygen levels in your blood it’ll takes a while to build it back up and it won’t happen while running. Therefore, it’s important to understand, practice and adapt a good run form as it will undoubtedly make you a better runner.
Fabian Patterson is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutritionist and owner of Change-iz Fitness a local personal training business located in the Kapolei area. For more information about this article, his business or anything fitness related please contact him via email firstname.lastname@example.org or his website www.change-izfitness.com
Photos by Captured Imagery