Top 10 Tips To Improve Your Running
Want to improve running Enjoyment? Keen to run Faster? Want to overcome recurring Injuries? Here are the Top 10 Running Tips To Improve Your Running from Chris Adams, Director at The Running Coach.
1: Check your Balance
Balance is key for all types of athletic movement, in particular running and it is an area I work upon with all of my clients as a loss of balance on one leg (even when stationary) creates additional tension and use of muscles within the body to create safety and stability for the body! A balanced body is a safe body, add running at speed (which can be two to three times your body weight in Kinetic Force) and the lack of balance will lead to muscle tightness, limited range of motion, muscle imbalances and in the long term potentially a change in motor control patterns.
If you can move better, you will run and perform better. Movement comes from suppleness from Head to Toe, thoracic and lumbar spine, hips knees ankles and even our feet. Having a flexible body will increase your range of movement and natural shock absorption. Yoga, Pilates, or general body weight exercises to help with improving ranges of movement such as a deep barefoot squat are a must for runners!
3: Running Technique
In our heads, we are running like a gazelle, behind the lens of a video camera we can often see something totally the opposite! Look around you at the runners as you drive by, are they light footed, running tall and effortless, or are they slouched forwards dragging their legs in an uncoordinated fashion. Whether you have a friend video you running with their smart phone, or see a specialist in running biomechanics I recommend you do this to give yourself an appreciation of how you are moving. You will then have an understanding on the areas you can work on or seek support from a coach to help you.
Posture is the foundation of running form as it can have an effect on movement of limbs, muscle fatigue, breathing and injury (ie. Lower back pain). Posture should be upright and balanced with hips kept directly beneath the shoulders and the back held stretched. Upon landing it’s important for runners to maintain a good posture and try not to sink into their hips.
5: Arm Movement
When running consider the movement of your arms. Ultimately the arms are used for balance and rhythm. Having correct arm movement will not make you run faster, but having incorrect arm movement will certainly slow you down! Arm position should be at a 90 degree angle and the elbow really does not need to move forwards beyond the torso. The movement forward will be smaller compared to the backward movement. The arms should move in a synchronous rhythm with the legs.
6: Hip Movement
I often ask clients to run on the spot (stationary) and feel the movement of their hips and legs. During this exercise they notice the feet are lifting directly beneath their buttock, and their hip is flexing at the same time. When running it is important to maintain a neutral pelvic position with good movement from the hips, allowing the hip to flex whilst bending the knee to bring the foot up off the ground and forward. It is common practice for runners not to flex the hip enough, which then causes a pendulum movement of the leg and over striding as the foot is brought forward for the next step. Developing good hip movement and correct posture are equally important for runners who want to improve their form and pace!
Rhythm or Cadence (steps per minute) is an important aspect of running and will help you achieve a lightweight bouncy feel – irrespective of your fitness, weight, size or age! Steps per minute should be between 170 to 185 steps per minute, which will mean taking shorter strides, as your feet will be touching the ground more often. The added advantages of increasing your rhythm/cadence are foot placements will be closer to your center of gravity reducing braking forces and high impact shocks to the muscular skeletal structure, and utilizing muscle tendon elasticity, which is effectively ‘free energy’ for your limbs! This will also ensure a brief surface contact. A runner whose technique is good remains longer in the air than on the ground!
The vast majority of feedback to the brain (proprioception) during human locomotion is from the feet; around 70%. Whether you are a believer in cushioned, motion control, stability or minimal running shoes, increasing the time you spend barefoot either walking around your home or wearing thin soled shoes for daily living this will improve foot strength and flexibility in your feet, as well as assist with controlled walking/running movement. Barefoot running will not cure runners from recurring injury, but barefoot is a great way to feel how you run, become aware of damaging high impact landing patterns, increase strength, and forms a good basis for runners to develop proprioception and then build upon this to learn the skill and technique of how to run.
Implement a muscular strength and endurance session into your training plan. The posterior kinetic chain is key for forward movement and acceleration therefore focusing on these muscles with exercises such as kettle bell routines will help improve stability, balance and power.
10: Running Diary
With any exercise program it is important to keep a diary of your workouts, resting HR, how you are feeling, and any injuries/concerns you may be having with muscle strains, tightness or potential injury. Runners should keep a weekly diary detailing this information as well as mileage and effort level for future reference. Running diaries will also provide the detailed information showing what mileage your body can sustain injury free and fast, it is often the case that either too many high effort/fast past training runs or a sudden increase in mileage will lead to injury. Avoid this by progressively increasing mileage and intensity and build upon what has proven in the past to work for you!
What are your top running tips? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
The Running Coach Limited is a provider of running assessment, technique coaching, speed and agility development. Working directly with amateur and professional athletes, and affiliated partners (Sports Clubs/Coaches, Physiotherapists, Sports Massage…), we aim to help clients reduce the incidence of injury, improve sporting ability and acquire new techniques to run with optimum performance.
For details on coaching services (online/in person/group) including conditioning and technique training contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 07718 700 762, or visit the website www.therunning-coach.co.uk