Beginners learning how to run properly need to answer one question right away: Is my running form proper? Each of us has different anatomical builds and bio-mechanics through the running motion, but all of us need the right running posture. It will optimize your form to prevent injury and increase your performance.
Today, we have some tips to emphasize why running form matters and how you can make simple changes that create drastic progress.
8 Tips on How to Run Properly
Whether you are taking up running to lose weight, get fit, or a mixture of both, utilizing these 8 tips for running correctly will be priceless as you run through this journey.
1. Initial conditioning
One thing that most beginning runners overlook is the fact that running isn’t just about endurance. You need to be properly fueled and have a baseline level of strength to be able to run efficiently.
When you focus on your nutrition to get healthier and improve your performance, running properly will be much easier, especially in a fatigued state. Strength training is also vital to ensure your muscles are fit enough to handle repeated efforts, like each stride while running.
2. Warm up and cool down
Each time you run (or exercise at all, for that matter), you should start with a warm-up and end it with a cool-down.
Since running is all about endurance, your warm-up and cool-down must be specific to that skill. Static stretching is the most commonly seen tactic to warm up and cool down among beginners, but that hinders your performance and increases injury risks!
Instead, treat the warm-up for a run just like you would when strength training. Perform submaximal repetitions to increase blood flow and prepare the muscles and joints for harder training during the actual run. Jog at half of your normal speed and ramp up as you get closer to your run.
There is no doubt that muscular strength and muscular endurance are on opposite ends of the spectrum. But is there a difference between muscular strength and muscular endurance when it comes to warming up and cooling down? Not really.
Make the warm-up and cool-down specific to the exercise you will perform, whether it’s weight training or running!
3. Start run/walking
Instead of jumping into long-distance running with no planned stops or breaks, it’s a good idea to transition with the walk-run method, also known as the run-walk method.
Having predetermined lengths and/or running times, followed by periods of walking, is an easy way to go from sedentary to regular running while mitigating injury risks.
As you get more fit, have fewer planned walks for less time throughout your running sessions until you simply don’t need them anymore.
4. Stand up tall
Check your posture while you are running. Make sure your torso is strong and upright, look ahead, and keep your shoulders relaxed. Proper posture will ensure that you can maximize your oxygen uptake, which will prolong your endurance performance.
Slouching or having bad posture, in general, will limit your air intake and hurt your performance drastically. Running is aerobic, after all.
5. Strengthen your core
Your core muscles commonly get sore after running for the first time. That is because they are required throughout the running motion to maintain good posture and keep your upper body stable. Make sure to engage your core and glutes, and you’ll experience a better stride.
Nobody doubts the benefits of a strong core when training with heavy weights. But why is it important to have a strong core while running? Overuse injuries are less common in those with a strong core, and recovery from acute injuries is typically much easier as well.
6. Step lightly
Stepping lightly is easier when you reduce your stride length. Increasing your stride rate in this way helps increase your cadence naturally and improves multiple biomechanical stressors while running.
Learning how to step while running may feel awkward at first, but you’ll quickly adjust. Just remember: don’t bounce and land on your midfoot while adjusting your stride rate.
7. Swing your arms
Limiting your arm swing while running while not only lower your performance but it can also increase your injury risk due to the awkward running motion that results.
Symmetrical arm swings with a 90-degree angle at your elbows while you relax your hands are easy habits to adopt. Remember to rotate your arms from your shoulder while keeping your elbows locked in place, not the other way around.
8. Breathe deeply
Learning how to breathe while running may be the hardest technique to nail down when first starting. A lack of physical fitness can make you not breathe efficiently. All that huffing and puffing with shallow breaths harm your performance by limiting your oxygen intake. It can also increase the risk of cramps while running.
Ensure that you breathe deeply while you are running. Most coaches agree that breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth is the most efficient technique.
Breathing through your nose activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which improves recovery. Breathing is how you recover throughout your run by replenishing oxygen stores necessary to keep going, so nose-breathing is imperative to success.
Running certainly isn’t rocket science. Expert guidance and a little practice will perfect your running form. Make sure you focus on your habits outside of running as well, as you’ll quickly find that mobility and strength are just as important as endurance for running success over time. Make sure to set goals to stay strong and push yourself to get more fit and healthy.
Now go hit the track!