For some people, cardio can be the worst part of a workout, especially if it consists of running. However, running can be an excellent addition to your fitness routine when performed properly. For those who don’t have the running rhythm down, it could be the reason you’re turned off from the exercise completely. If you’re interested in joining team runs-a-lot and you want to sprint to your full potential, consider these tips to help you perfect your running technique.
1. Improve your posture
If you want to improve your running technique, you must first improve your posture, according to World Running. If your posture is bad, your body will have to use excess energy to hold your body up, and that’s energy that could’ve been used to make improvements to your speed and distance. Start paying attention to your posture when you sit and stand – your shoulders should be upright instead of slouched, and your spine should be straight as well. Consider giving yoga a shot – the flexibility exercises can be beneficial to your posture.
2. Keep your face relaxed
Squinting your eyes and locking your jaw as you growl at the starting line may make you look intimidating and fearless, but it’s not going to be helpful when you actually start running. The source said that tensing up your jaw sends neural signals to your spine that cause your whole body to tense up. So, instead of getting into “beast mode” with an intimidating look, change your game face into a calm, relaxed look – it’ll benefit you in the long-run.
3. Start strength training
You might think that dedicating all of your time to running is what’s going to improve your technique, but according to Runner’s World magazine, that’s just simply not the case. The source said runners should incorporate multi-joint exercises into their fitness plan along with their running. Consider implementing planks, squats, lunges and pushups into your routine to strengthen your entire body and improve your running technique.
4. Practice your breathing technique
According to ACTIVE, “stomach” breathing, or deep abdominal breathing is ideal for running. It simply consists of taking deeper breaths as you exercise.
“When you take deeper breaths, you use more air sacs in your lungs, which allows you to take in more oxygen to feed your muscles,” Dr. David Ross told the source. “When I’m running, I concentrate on taking slow and deep breaths to strengthen my diaphragm.”
To practice deep abdominal breathing to improve your running technique, lie flat on the floor with a book on your stomach. Inhale slowly and watch the book rise, then exhale slowly and watch the book lower – this is a great way to learn controlled breathing.
“Running on your heels can cause back and knee pain.”
5. Avoid running heels first
Walking on your heels is fine, but running on them – that’s a different story.
“When you walk, you keep one foot in contact with the ground, while running has a moment of weightlessness in the stride,” running coach Alex Figueroa told Shape magazine.
In essence, a successful running technique avoids direct heel-to-ground contact, putting less impact on the joints and bones. Running directly on your heels can contribute to severe back and knee pain, according to the source, so be as conscious about this as possible.
6. Don’t make long strides
The idea of running might consist of long, deep strides in your head, but leaping forward as you run is actually inefficient because it can drain your energy quicker. Never force yourself to take long strides. Instead, just stand tall, lean forward and let your feet fall into position on their own. By doing this, your body won’t be forced to use as much energy for stepping, so it can be used to run longer.
7. Don’t run so hard
It’s common to assume that if you can run hard and fast, you’re running technique doesn’t need improvement, but that’s just not the case, according to Shape. Instead, you should be using a heart rate monitor to track your rate and set a steady pace. Once you figure out the pace that is most comfortable for running, your body will adjust and you’ll be able to run faster for longer periods of time.