Running Technique

The Runners Academy

Running technique is variable from individual to individual. However, there are fundamental components that make up efficencent running technique. 

  1. Posture is critical to efficient running! Gravity is constantly acting on us and it is the biggest force that must be managed to run efficiently. Running tall refers to imagining there is a string pulling you up from the top of your head. Core strength exercises and posture exercises are an important part of helping maintain your form. If in a static position you can not maintain a tall neutral spine, especially standing on one foot, don’t expect to be able to hold good posture while running. 
  1. Walking and running are different! Walking involves swinging the leg forward reaching for the ground out in front of you. The heel is the first point of contact with the ankle in front of the knee. This has a braking effect. The braking effect of the heel strike lets you store energy allowing energy conservation during walking. However, during running speeds the energy conservation as a result of the ankle landing in front of the knee is lost. The impact from landing on the heel with the ankle in front of the knee causes undue stress on the joints. 

Running is like marching. To do this move your legs like a piston, one goes up as one goes down, push the ground away. The result will be the foot/ankle lands under the knee and the shin is perpendicular to the ground. Marching drills are fundamental to good running technique. Foot position on landing should be neutral. Landing in a pointed toe position or with the foot completed flexed up is problematic. In recent years it has been popular to encourage runners to land on the forefoot or mid foot. I don’t suggest this strategy, 70% of marathon runners at the last olympics were striking the ground with their rear foot. The key point is that the ankle lands under the knee and the shin is in a perpendicular position relative to the ground on initial contact. By keeping your foot in a neutral position like you are balancing an egg on top of your foot and performing a marching or piston action with your legs you will achieve this perpendicular shin angle and you will land toward the rear or mid foot! 

  1. Running is like springing from one foot to one foot. Start with a tall body position, keep the foot neutral like you are balancing an egg on your foot. Start marching on the spot then start to run on the spot light and quick. The stride rate should fall in a range of 170-190 foot contacts/min. Everyone is different! To put this together just start to move forward. To do this, intuitively you will lean forward through your ankles. This shifts the centre of mass and you will start to move forward. 
  1. How do you change your speed? Speed is determined by how much force goes into the ground to push you forward. Now that we have determined running is much more similar to marching than walking. In order to speed up, you change how big and fast your piston moves. By lifting your foot and knee higher up this gives you more room to accelerate your foot toward the ground and create more force to push yourself forward. Similarly, slower running requires a smaller piston action with the legs.