This packet was written to help runners understand the importance of running form. It is
a subject that can cause a good deal of confusion for a runner because there is no shortage of
conflicting opinions amongst experienced runners and coaches. In addition to that, you will find
differing scientific studies on running form and, needless-to-say, differing interpretations of
those studies by running experts. The purpose of this packet is not to persuade you in one
direction or the other. It is simply a general display of the various notions that are held about
running form. Anyone reading this packet should understand that much of what is written is up
The main purpose of this packet is to help runners of all levels understand why running
form is important. Theories as to why some runners have better form than others are presented.
Finally, for anyone wishing to improve their running form, both simplistic and more complex
strategies are suggested.
CAN YOU DEFINE GOOD RUNNING FORM AND SHOULD POOR RUNNING FORM
What does good running form look like? That is a controversial question. It is hard to
tell someone what the best running form looks like. There is no doubt that if you take a look at
some of the best runners out there, you will see a variation of styles. If you ask the best coaches
and running experts out there, you won’t exactly get the same answers. What will bring about an
even greater argument is if you can, or even should, try to change a runner’s form. Because if
you do attempt to change it, you are back to the same question of “what does optimal form look
like?” There really is no one-size-fits-all style for running form.
Even though good running form is hard to define, that probably does not mean that there
is no such thing as bad running form. Therefore, some, if not many, runners may benefit from
working to improve their form. Just how to do that and to what extent has been an increasingly
burning question in the running community over the years. There was a time when many
coaches and running experts felt that running form was something that should not be tinkered
with. The thought was that everyone has their own individual style of running and how that
person runs is natural to them. Those who felt this way were correct in the sense that running
form is unique to the individual. However, if you apply the logic of not messing with natural
form to other sports, it does not make a great deal of sense. Would you tell a baseball player that
whatever swing he has when he first picks up a bat is his natural swing and that it should never
be tinkered with? Would you tell a swimmer that his first shot at freestyle swimming is his
natural form and that he should never try to modify it? Think of how many aspects in life that
this applies to. Maybe natural isn’t always best when it comes to running.
While it is true that running is a more evolutionary activity to mankind than swinging a
baseball bat or a tennis racket, one could argue that we do not need to be taught how to run
anymore than we need to be taught how to walk. It’s simply something that is ingrained in the
human DNA and we’ll all learn on our own. Still, it may be an incorrect assumption that we all
simply naturally run with the best form possible because obviously we don’t all run as fast as
each other. Maybe some of us have to work a little harder than others to acquire good running
form. There are many things in life that come easily to one person while another has to work
very hard to attain the same skill.
There are still a few coaches and runners out there who cling to the “old school” stance that
you should never mess with anyone’s running form. However, this group grows smaller and
smaller over the years. It’s simply too narrow minded to not even consider the possibility that
running form could be improved for some, if not many, runners. While some of those against
modifying form may present a valid argument, most of these people have not likely read modern
research and theories on the subject. Also, to be fair, some of the “never” group may agree that
bad running form does exist; they have seen too many people steered in the wrong direction by
misguided attempts to alter it.
While all the controversy can be mind-boggling, this packet will make the best attempt
possible to define good running form and suggest various ways in which poor running form can
THE TWO MAIN REASONS WHY RUNNING FORM IS IMPORTANT
So what’s wrong with bad running form? Well, what differentiates good running form
from bad running form is efficiency. Good running form will mean that your body moves in a
manner that does not waste energy and also in a way that properly absorbs the impact of your
stride. In essence, being an efficient runner means that you get the most out of the effort you put
into moving your body along and that you make it as easy as possible for your body to stand up
to the stress you place upon it. An inefficient runner wastes his body’s energy and does not
make it easy for his legs to absorb the impact of each step he takes. We’ll first address the issue
A. FASTER RACE TIMES
Running economy is what exercise physiologists like to describe as how efficiently your
body uses oxygen when you run. Everyone has a certain amount of oxygen provided to their
muscles when they run. In a laboratory, this amount would be referred to as your VO2 max.
Without going into a deep explanation of exercise physiology, your VO2 max is a measurement
of how much oxygen your muscles can use when you run. Now, simply producing more oxygen
than another runner does not always mean you will run faster. This is where running economy
comes into play because it has to do with how efficiently your body uses that oxygen. Oxygen is
your energy to run. The best runners do not waste this energy. Ultimately, a runner with a VO2
max that is slightly lower than that of his opponent, can beat his opponent if he is more efficient
in how he uses the oxygen available to him.
To be efficient and not waste the energy available to you would mean that you use good
running form. The best runners out there produce a good deal of oxygen (i.e. have at least a
decently high VO2 max) and efficiently use that oxygen (i.e. have good running economy). It’s
unlikely that you will find a professional runner without an above average VO2 max, but you will
find numerous cases of professional runners outperforming competitors with a higher VO2 max
because of better running economy.
Needless-to-say, if there is room to improve concerning your running form, it could lead
to better race performances. The more efficient you are, the faster you will run. Lowering your
race times is not always about getting into better shape. Improvement in your times can come
from cleaning up your form. Let’s say you are a runner who hunches over and flails your arms
all over the place when you run. Correcting your form to ensure that you run taller and swing
your arms in an efficient manner would save you energy when you run. Leaning forward and
flailing your arms works against your body in terms of trying to run smoothly. Therefore, if you
make things easier on your body by running in a smoother manner, your body will conserve
energy and you’ll have more left in the tank at the end of a race. Just running smoother could
take 30 seconds off your 5K time. You see, it’s not always a matter of getting into better shape
to improve your race times; it can also be about efficiently using your energy over the course of
B. INJURY PREVENTION
Running form also hugely comes into play when it comes to injuries. Your body takes a
pounding when you run. You are bouncing into the air and crashing onto the ground over and
over again. Your body must absorb a great deal of shock to withstand this. Absorbing this shock
in an efficient manner is incredibly important to preventing injury. So many novice runners get
frustrated and quit running because they get injured. It may be hard to believe, but many of these
beginning runners don’t know how to run. That sounds ridiculous to many people because
running is a natural human ability. However, many beginning runners get out there and plod
along with sloppy form. It may seem natural to them, but their over-striding, leaning forward,
sticking their butt out, etc. means that their body has to absorb the shock of crashing to the
ground in an inefficient manner. Over the course of time, it is very easy to develop a repetitive
motion injury. Many people who take up running end up quitting because they become
frustrated by injury. Just a little attention to running smoother could have gone a long way to
help them stick with it. What a shame.
One immense factor that separates the very best distance runners from the mere mortals is
the ability to absorb the pounding of a high volume of training. This becomes more and more
true as you navigate through the high school and collegiate ranks and into the professional ranks.
You may hear some professional runners in denial of their hitting the genetic lottery and
claiming that they are where they are all because of hard work. While it does take incredible
work ethic, discipline, dedication, etc. to run 130 miles per week, week after week, that kind of
volume is simply not something that the ordinary runner can handle. For most runners, no matter
how hard they dedicate themselves, consecutive 100-mile weeks just isn’t possible. Injury
becomes inevitable. Most of the best runners out there are born with highly efficient running
form and this allows them to handle incredible volume. While professionals still deal with
plenty of injuries, it’s from 130 mile weeks, not the 30 mile weeks of the average runner.
THREE GENERAL WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING FORM
A. RUNNING MORE
Probably the simplest way to become a more efficient runner is to run more. Yes, your
body can find its own way of running more efficiently after time. Months and years of consistent
training can lead your body to make things easier on itself by cleaning up your form. Therefore,
it’s common to see runners become smoother after long periods of consistent training. And this
consistent training should involve a variety of training paces. You are far more likely to see
improvements in your running form if you are including threshold runs, long runs, race-pace
intervals, etc. If all you ever do is run five easy miles day in and day out, you will be limited in
just how much improvement you will see in your running. Because you are not providing a
stimulus to your body (i.e. shocking it with variety), your fitness level and tolerance for injury
will not improve nearly as much as it could. However, that is subject for another article. What
we’re concerned with is running form and variety in your training is what’s best for your body to
naturally begin to improve its form.
Many coaches and running experts will tell you that fast repeats are best for improving
form. Repeats such as 200’s and 400’s on the track where you are running at paces equal to or
faster than your mile race pace are great for teaching your body to utilize better form. These
“close to sprint speed” paces challenge your body to keep good form by tiring your muscles.
Regularly including these workouts in your training can make you a more efficient runner.
B. STRENGTH TRAINING AND CROSS TRAINING
The second way to become more efficient is through strengthening your body. The drills,
strengthening exercises, cross-training etc. can make your body stronger, thus providing you
with better running form. This is because a good deal of poor running form is a result of weak
areas in the body. For example, if you are someone who hunches over when you run, core
exercises to strengthen your back and abs can allow you to run more upright. Just as well,
strengthening your legs could prevent the “collapsing” effect that many runners with weak legs
suffer from where the knee bends excessively when the foot plants.
Many studies have advocated improvements in running economy from doing drills and
plyometrics. The ballistic action of these movements has been found to improve strength and
power, which both play into more efficient running. Drills and plyometrics could really be
something that helps you. Nonetheless, be forewarned that the chances of developing injuries
from this type of training is high. It would behoove you to make sure that you have a
knowledgeable person teach you how to properly do these exercises and that you are always
cautious when performing them.
Some runners have found that cross-training improved their running form. Running itself
only strengthens certain parts of the body. Rowing, biking, cross-country skiing, elliptical
machines, etc. all strengthen muscles of the body in a manner different from running or
strengthen muscles that are not used at all during running. By experimenting with various types
of cross-training, you may find a certain type that makes you stronger and will help you develop
better running economy.
When it comes to weight lifting, you will see a broad spectrum of tastes amongst serious
distance runners. There are those who never touch a weight. All they may do is some push ups
and core strengthening exercises. There are those who hit their entire body when they lift, those
who only do upper body, and those who only do lower body. It’s difficult to say which path is
the correct one to follow. One runner may never touch a weight and reach success while another
may regularly lift weights and also reach success. There is a plethora of opinions on whether or
not a distance runner should lift weights, which muscles to exercise, how often, how heavy, etc.
Despite the conflicting theories, do not be quick to rule out weight lifting. If you try it, it may do
nothing for you. Heck, the extra muscle mass may even slow you down. Still, you cannot deny
the fact that there are runners who make a good argument that weight lifting has helped their
running. Therefore, if you need to improve your form, it does not hurt to experiment a little and
see if weight training could improve your running form.
C. CONSCIOUS CONTROL
The third way to improve running form is through “conscious control.” This means that
you think about correcting your running form as you run. You may still be leaning over when
you run even after year-round training and regular strengthening exercises. Sometimes you
literally have to focus on straightening out your spine when you run in order to improve your
running form. This is not an easy thing to do. At the age of 16, you may have been running a
little hunched over all your life. Now, you have to reverse all those years of poor running form
and that may not be easy. It may take weeks or months of concentrating on straightening your
spine when you run in order to reverse this. It’s no fun to have to think that much when you run.
However, if you want to become a better runner that just may be what you have to do.
Now, the starting point for conscious control can be the most difficult factor of an already
difficult endeavor. This is because you may not know if there’s anything wrong with your form
in the first place. It may take a coach or video tape of yourself running to understand what you
are doing wrong in the first place. Once you feel that you’ve found areas to improve upon
concerning your running form, you are back to the problem of “what is good running form?”
WHAT GOOD RUNNING FORM SHOULD LOOK LIKE
Let’s go head to toe on this and remember that not all coaches, medical professionals, and
running experts are in agreement, so it would not be uncommon for you to come across some
conflicting advice on running form. Nevertheless, the following advice is a good collection of
tips on what good form should look like.
For starters, your head should be aligned with your spine. That means keeping it level.
Running with your head tilted down or back can throw your whole body of out whack. You
should keep your head level when you run. If you see your feet or clouds when you run, this is
not good. Look straight ahead with your eyes focused on the ground 10-20 meters ahead of you.
Also, keep your jaw and faced relaxed. Clenching your face when you run wastes energy.
You should limit tension in your shoulders to ensure that your arms hang loosely. Don’t
hunch. Tense shoulders are a waste of energy.
Keep your chest open. Run with a broad chest, just don’t exaggerate it. Keep your
shoulders back, but not in a tensed fashion. Your chest should feel naturally broad and still
enable you to keep your shoulders relaxed.
As for arms, you will see quite a variety amongst runners when it comes to arm swing.
You may even see some fast runners with some crazy and inefficient looking arm swings. Still,
the best advice is to try to naturally swing your arms close to your body in a fluent back and forth
motion. Your hands should probably glide between your hip and your lower ribs. Don’t let your
arms dangle by your thighs like you are carrying buckets. Don’t keep your hands high like they
are glued to your armpits. Some experts advocate not letting your arms cross the middle of your
sternum. Keep your hands relaxed. Don’t clench your fists.
Running experts are not in agreement over just how upright a runner should run. Some
feel that a runner should be completely upright when running while others feel that a forward
lean is good. However, nobody in their right mind thinks that you should be hunching over at
the gut or leaning way back. Your spine should be kept straight. A coach yelling at you to “run
tall” is good advice.
If you do lean forward, the lean should come from the ankles while still keeping the spine
straight. You should not be hunching over at the gut. This is one of the biggest flaws for
distance runners. Some experts are adamant that if you are not tilting your hips and keeping
them high, you will be sitting back too much as if you are “sitting in a bucket.” These experts
will argue that not lifting your hips and tilting them forward will cause you to relay too much on
your quads and hip flexors. Tilting and lifting your hips will enable a more effortless turnover
by utilizing the hamstrings and glutes. But again, when you tilt the hips forward, you still have
to keep your butt in, pelvis level, and back straight. Too many runners interpret the forward lean
as bringing their chest and chin towards their knees. This “hunching” is no good. The tilting of
the hips should come from a lean at the ankles.
Imagining a cable attached to your nose and gently pulling you forward and up as you run
may provide the proprioceptive cue you need to lean slightly forward while still keeping the
spine straight hips high, and butt tucked in. If that doesn’t help, you may want to practice
standing in place with a straight back, hips high, butt in, and then tilting forward at the ankle.
That slight lean may help you visualize the proper tilt for your body while you are running.
Don’t stick your butt out when you run. Keep your butt tucked in. You are really
making life difficult on yourself if your butt is sticking way out when you run. If you don’t
believe this, try standing up tall and lifting one knee and then putting it back down. Then, stick
your butt out and see how much harder it is to lift your knee this time.
While your spine is straight, your hips are tilted slightly forward, and your butt is tucked
in, your pelvis should sit relatively level. This can be hard to visualize, but if you look at an
efficient runner, you should see a straight spine, level pelvis, hips tilted slightly forward, and a
butt that is not sticking out. If you’re one of the many runners out there who leans at the gut
when you run and has trouble correcting your posture, you may want to take a serious look at
strengthening your core and perhaps stretching your hamstrings. You’ll find a great deal of weak
core muscles and tight hamstrings amongst runners who hunch forward when they run.
Your torso as a whole should not tilt excessively from side to side when you run. An
efficient runner’s shoulders will normally stay relatively level when they run. Everyone can
expect their right shoulder to slightly dip towards the ground as your right leg impacts with the
ground as you run. However, you will see some runners where there is an excessive tilt when
this occurs. These runners look like they are rocking from side to side when they run. This is
certainly not ideal running form and can often be corrected by strengthening the leg and core
muscles, along with focusing on not tilting while running.
HAMSTRINGS, HIP FLEXORS AND KNEES
Acute knee angle refers to the bend of your leg as your heel comes up towards your butt
and then swings forward as you prepare to strike your foot to the ground. This is commonly
referred to as the swing phase. You will find that the most efficient runners bring their heels
very close to their buttocks when they are running at increased speeds. Now, your knee angle is
not as important when you are running easy, however, when you are racing, it is advantageous to
bring your heel close to your butt. Unlike other aspects of running form, you do not want to
concentrate on trying to bring your foot closer to your butt as you run. Rather, you may be able
to develop a better acute knee angle by improving flexibility in your quadriceps and
strengthening your hamstrings.
Also concerning knees, distance runners should not run with a high knee lift. If you
watch a track meet and see a 100 meter race, you will notice the sprinters lifting their knees high
as they run. You will not see this with the distance runners in the 10,000 meters. Unlike
sprinters who run up on their toes and drive their feet into the ground with a high knee lift,
distance runners draw their propulsion from bringing their heel close to their butt. As a distance
runner, when you are racing, your goal should be getting your heel close to your butt and turning
your legs over. Don’t listen to people who yell “lift your knees” or “lengthen your stride” at you
when you race. While these people are probably noticing that your stride is becoming a shuffle
and that you need to pick up the pace, the correct thing to yell would be “bring that heel up” or
“turn your legs over.”
Please note that while the proximity between the heel and butt is not as important when
running easy, it is still important. Almost any runner who is running very easy will raise their
heel anywhere near their butt. However, there are some runners who still fail to bring their heels
up when they increase their speed. You will see some runners (mostly your more novice
runners) who accelerate to a moderate or even a threshold pace and yet still do not bring their
heels anywhere near their butt. You see, these runners rely way too much on their calves to
move them along and not their upper legs. Running in this manner typically brings about
vertical oscilation, which is discussed later in the packet. Needless-to-say, the faster your pace,
the closer your heel should come to your butt.
The book Running Well by Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors, encourages runners not to
rely too much on the quads and hip flexors when they run because it will reduce the power and
length of their stride. Murphy and Connors advise runners to utilize their hamstrings and
gluteals in an equal manner to their quads and hip flexors by tilting their hips forward. But they
also remind runners to keep their butt in and their pelvis level.
Most everyone is in agreement that the foot should land underneath the body when
running. This is very important. Your foot should land below the center mass of your body.
Allowing your foot to land out in front of you causes your body to improperly absorb the shock
of your landing and it also causes a breaking effect as your foot waits for the bulk of your body
mass to catch up with it. In essence, allowing your foot to land too far out in front of you when
running greatly increases your chances of injury and slows you down. Some people may yell at
you to take “long strides,” but they are wrong. Trying to purposely lengthen your stride will
result in over-striding and you will find yourself allowing your foot to land out in front of you.
The key is to turn those legs over. Work on ensuring that your feet are landing underneath your
body as you run. To go faster, turn your legs over and focus on cadence. Don’t start trying to
bound along with big strides. Staying upright, getting your feet to land underneath you, and
turning your legs over are probably the three most important things you can do to ensure that you
develop an efficient stride.
If you watch professional runners, their strides can seem long and powerful. It may give
the appearance that a long stride is ideal. However, if you study them a bit closer, their feet are
landing underneath their bodies, not out in front of their bodies. They are turning their legs over
with a quick cadence, not bounding along with a slow cadence. You too may be able to develop
a graceful stride that more resembles theirs, but it should again come from staying upright,
getting your feet to land underneath you, and turning your legs over. That will lead you to a
strong looking stride. Simply trying to lengthen your stride by taking big steps will slow you
down and lead to injury.
FOOT-STRIKE: A CATEGORY OF ITS OWN
Now, where the issue get complicated is just “how” your foot should land underneath
you. We know it should impact the ground underneath your center of mass, but just how the foot
should land on the ground is where even the best experts disagree. There are three ways in
which your foot can land on the ground. They are on the heel, the midfoot, and the forefoot.
Landing on your heel means that your heel hits the ground first, then your foot flattens on the
ground, and then you go up on your toes as you push off. Landing on your midfoot would mean
that your foot would land flat on the ground and you would then go up on your toes as you push
off. Landing on your forefoot would mean landing on your toes. It might not be in the same
fashion as a sprinter whose heels stay far off the ground, but a forefoot striker would land on the
balls of his feet.
So the question becomes: “which foot-strike is best?” You are going to find some highly
regarded experts disagreeing on this one. Disregarding those who stay neutral on the issue, the
schools of thought fall into two categories. There are those who feel that any of the three foot-
strikes are fine and those who feel that a runner should steer away from heel-striking and develop
a midfoot strike. Those who believe that any foot-strike is best will tell you that the only
element that matters is that your foot lands underneath your body when it impacts the ground.
Whether the initial impact occurs on the heel, midfoot, or forefoot, does not matter. This group
will tell you that studies show that the vast majority of runners (80% according to the book Run
Strong by Kevin Beck) land heel first. This group will tell you that the natural movement of the
foot is to go “heel, midfoot, forefoot” as you run. This group will site studies showing that no
one foot-strike has been proven to show faster or more efficient running. How your foot lands
may be a result of the structure of your body and there is nothing you can do to change. The
only goal should be to get the foot to land underneath you and you should give it no more
thought than that. Trying to mess with or change your foot-strike will simply lead you in the
wrong direction and could negatively impact your running. Even those in this group who are not
so wild about landing on the heel will explain that there are certainly various degrees of landing
on the heel. Some runners very obviously strike heel first, while other subtly do so. Therefore, a
runner whose foot lands underneath his body and slightly lands on his heel before shifting to his
midfoot is running efficiently and any attempts to modify this would be wasteful or even
Some experts explain the difference in foot-strike as a matter of speed. Some studies
show that there is a far higher percentage of professional runners who land on the midfoot and
forefoot than the average runner. Therefore, some draw the conclusion that being a midfoot or
forefoot striker is best because that’s how the pro’s run and they’re the fastest. However, some
experts dismiss this by explaining that professional runners land more on their midfoot and
forefoot because they are running at much faster speeds than the average runner. This argument
is made in the book The Runner’s Body by Ross Tucker, Jonathan Dugas and Matt Fitzgerald.
Let’s say that you are a 20-minute 5K runner who runs 8:30 miles on easy days and you
are a heel-striker. Now, let’s say that you went to the track and tried to run a 400 meter in 55
seconds. At this pace, you may find you yourself landing far more on your forefoot than you do
during your easy runs or even your 5K races. In fact, you may have to run all the way up on
your toes in a full sprint to run at this pace. Now, 55 second 400 pace that is killing you as you
round the track is the pace that Hicham El Guerrouj ran for four laps when he set the 1-mile
world record of 3:43.40 in 1999. Yes, El Guerrouj ran far more up on this toes than the average
distance runner, but maybe that’s because he ran at such fast paces. If you he was a 20-minute
5K runner, maybe he would have been a heel-striker. Just the same, maybe if you ran 4:15 per
mile for your 5K race, you would be a midfoot or forefoot striker. Foot-strike is all just a matter
of speed to some experts. We’d all be midfoot or forefoot striker if we could hold incredible
speeds for long durations.
AND THEN THERE ARE THOSE WHO FEEL THAT HEEL-STRIKING IS BAD
Now, the other group feels strongly that heel-striking is no good. They will make their
argument simple by telling you to go out and run barefoot on grass. They will tell you that there
is no way that you are going to land heel first with no shoes on. Your foot simply is not designed
to impact shock that way. They will explain that human beings are evolutionarily designed to
land flat on their foot and that the whole heel-striking business is a recent phenomenon brought
about by heavily padded running shoes.
There is certainly some merit to the argument that people were meant to land flat on their
feet. Early man did a great deal of running. Running was something that human beings had to
do to survive. You either ran to catch your food or you ran away from something that was trying
to eat you. Early man had to be able to cover vast distances to survive. While it may not seem
so when you look at all humans today, we were born to run. Matt Fitzgerald points out in the
book Brain Training for Runners that it was not a coincidence that humans developed an upright
posture, longer legs, stronger feet, bigger buttocks, and a very impressive internal cooling
system. It all happened to enable early man us to run great distances day after day. According to
the book, Manthropology: The Science of Inadequate Modern Man by Peter McAllisterven, even
as recently as 2,000 years ago, Romans soldiers were running an estimated 40 miles per day with
equipment weighing half their body weight.
So if running has always been such an integral part of our existence, why are there a good
number of Americans who find running torturous? And for those of us who do run, why do we
so often deal with injuries and why do only a small segment us run at what would be considered
blistering speeds? What happened? What the midfoot strike supporters will tell you is that for
one thing, we have become more and more sedentary as technology has eliminated the need to
“run to survive” and we have also become heavier due the abundance of food, our portion sizes,
and the unhealthy nature of our food. We do not move around nearly as much as previous
human beings and we have certainly become bigger and heavier. Therefore, there are fewer and
fewer of us who have suitable bodies for long distance running. It seems that technology has
made the human race a little softer and our legs just can’t take the pounding that they used to.
On top of that, running shoes have slowed us down and increased our injuries. Back to
not being able to land on your heel in bare feet, the midfoot strike supporters will tell you that we
once landed the way we were meant to, which is flat on our feet. That gave us proper shock
absorption. Today in America, most people wear running shoes with quite a bit of padding or at
least quite a bit compared to the natural padding of the naked foot. It has been ingrained in the
minds of Americans that a heavily padded running shoe is an absolute necessity. You might be
asked if you’ve “lost your mind” when trying to convince the average recreational runner to go
with a running shoe that has barely any padding in it. Yet, running shoes with very little padding
are exactly what many midfoot strike advocates say a runner should be wearing. The
explanation is that all that extra padding on your heel allows you to land with your foot out in
front of you and there is no way your foot could land like that in bare feet. Americans essentially
grow up running improperly because our ever popular brands of running shoes have trained us to
go against the fluent running style that our ancestors developed over thousands of years.
The midfoot strike supporters argue that cavemen didn’t land on their heels. They landed
flat on their foot. Many Americans today land heel-first. This hurts us in two ways. The first is
that it slows us down by creating a breaking effect. In order to land flat on your foot, you have
to get your foot to strike underneath the weight of your body. However, your foot cannot land
underneath your body if you are landing heel-first in your Nike Shox. Your foot landing out in
front of you creates a breaking effect as your heel slams into the ground in front of your body
and then rests on the ground until your torso comes over top of it. The resistance created by this
over-striding makes sense if you slowly picture yourself running like this in your mind.
The second problem with this “running shoe created heel striking” is that your legs
improperly absorb the shock of your foot strike. If you’re a 150 pound runner, that’s 150 lbs.
slamming into the ground with each step you take. Not to make you feel fat, but that is a lot of
weight crashing down onto the ground. Think about how many times that crash occurs during
your 5 mile run. If you take 170 steps per minute for your 40-minute 5-mile run, that is 6,800
times that 150 pounds impacts that ground. If you run five miles five times per week, that is
34,000 times. That is a lot of pounding for your legs to absorb. Wouldn’t you want the most
efficient means of doing so? The midfoot strike camp will tell you that your ancestors gave you
the means to properly absorb this shock. You were born with the notion of having your foot land
underneath you and neatly absorb the shock, but you went and screwed it up by wearing running
shoes that taught you to let your foot land out in front of you. So now your leg slams harder into
the ground with that breaking effect of yours and the shockwaves traveling up your leg with each
impact are not absorbed in the smooth manner that they are supposed to be. In essence, not only
are your bulky running shoes slowing you down, they are getting you injured as well.
ARE RUNNING SHOES THE ENEMY?
There are also those who believe that running shoes weaken the feet and shorten the
Achilles tendon. This theory rests in the idea that running shoes constrict the feet by limiting the
use of smaller muscles in the foot. Over time (i.e. wearing shoes your entire life), these muscles
will weaken. Furthermore, if you sit your typical bulky-heeled running shoe on a flat surface,
you will see that the heel sits higher than the toe of the shoe. With this, you are essentially
stepping downhill with each foot-strike. What this does is prevent the Achilles tendon from
elongating to its fullest extent when you run. Some tout that traditional running shoes shorten
the Achilles tendon over time, thus weakening it and paving the way for injury.
This whole notion of heavily padded running shoes being the culprit can be further
supported by taking a look at the East Africans. The Kenyans and Ethiopians have been the
world’s dominant distance runners for several decades now. The overwhelming childhood story
amongst them is of running to and from school each day in their bare feet. Now yes, all that
running itself may be a key element to their success as distance runners, but midfoot strike
advocates will argue that the Africans develop efficient form by not wearing shoes as kids. Their
European and American counterparts grow up wearing the bulky running shoes which teach
them bad form. However, there is certainly far more that plays into the dominance of the East
Africans. The enormous popularity of distance running in their countries, limited availability of
other sports, poverty, lack of fast food establishments at every street corner, etc., all play into the
mix. Still, the difference in footwear is something that cannot be easily dismissed.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL THAT YOUR HEEL-STRIKING IS BAD
After reading all this about foot strikes, you may have made a decision about which side
you believe. If you feel that you are fine with your heel-striking as long as your foot lands
underneath your body then you should probably not give the subject any more thought.
Nevertheless, if you do believe that a midfoot strike is ideal, then you may be in the dark about
just how to go about changing your foot strike. It may not be as simple as you think. Let’s not
forget that you will be attempting to reverse something that you have done for many years.
Trying to change your foot strike without a clear understanding of what you are doing and a solid
plan could spell disaster.
A. MINIMALIST RUNNING SHOES
The first thing you may want to try is a minimalist running shoe. If you buy into the idea
that traditional running shoes are working against you, then of course, minimalist running shoes
would work to reverse that. What is meant by minimalist running shoes are those which are
designed to reduce heel-strike and/or to mimic barefoot running. Some of these shoes also
advertise the notion that your feet will become stronger because they are no longer constricted by
bulky running shoes. Minimalist running shoes typically contain little padding, have a limited
heel-to-toe drop (the height of the heel compared to the toe of the shoe), are lightweight, and are
Almost every shoe company has caught on to the idea of minimalist running shoes.
While runners who wear these shoes are still far from being in the majority, the trend is growing
and growing. The subject of minimalist running shoes is often discussed in running magazines
and the latest running books. There is still a tendency by the major shoes manufacturers not to
over-promote their minimalist models because doing so may convince people that all the
traditional running shoes the company makes are harmful. Do not be surprised if you walk into
your local running store and are asked if you have “lost your mind” when you inquire about
purchasing running shoes with very little padding. Not everyone has bothered to read-up on new
running research or believes in it if they have. Nevertheless, there are more and more stores that
now carry minimalist running shoes and if you cannot find them in a store, there are plenty of
websites that sell them.
Although they certainly produce a plethora of running shoes with built-up heels, Nike has
quietly been at the forefront of minimalist running shoes with their series of running shoes called
the Nike Free. These shoes have minimal padding, which reduces heel strike and allows for
more flexibility of the foot. Due to their flexibility and minimal cushioning, these shoes mimic
barefoot running. The philosophy behind the Nike Free shoes is that wearing them will help a
runner develop better biomechanics and stronger feet. The Free line has been around since 2004
and there have been several different styles of these shoes as Nike continues to make
Smaller companies such as Terra Plana and Skora manufacture models that are similar in
concept to the Nike Free. Vibram has taken the idea of mimicking barefoot running to the
greatest extent by producing their Fivefingers line of shoes. These shoes are about as minimal as
you can get. The exceptionally thin material of the shoe provides a glove-like design that
encases the foot and individual toes. The Vibrams literally fit like a glove.
The Newton shoe company takes the minimalist science a step further by developing
shoes which are designed to make a runner land more naturally. Rather than putting a runner in
a thinly padded shoe and awaiting the process of a midfoot strike, the Newton running shoes
have what are called “actuator lugs” on the bottom of the shoe at the midfoot. What these lugs
are designed to do is prevent your foot from spending excessive time on the ground by returning
the energy of each foot-strike to make your foot lift back off the ground. In essence, the Newton
running shoes prevent a slow heel-midfoot-forefoot placement of the foot. The quick return of
energy with each step is intent on getting your foot to land flat on the ground and underneath
you. Newton advocates what’s called a “land-lever-lift” technique where the foot should land
with minimal effort instead of relying on pushing off or pulling back with the toes. Think of
slightly lifting (no high knee lifting) your leg up and down off the ground instead of rolling
through each foot strike. The Newton running shoes are designed to prevent slow turnover and
heel-striking. There is an extensive scientific explanation behind these shoes that you can read
on their website at www.newtonrunning.com.
Keep in mind that if you are going to try a minimalist running shoe, it would be wise to
gradually introduce it to your running regime. Remember that you may have been running for
many years with heavily padded running shoes and that your legs have become accustomed to
them. Therefore, wear these one a week, then twice a week, etc. Perhaps an experienced and
efficient runner could get away with wearing minimalist running shoes right away and logging
many miles, but most runners should be conservative in their introduction to these shoes. If you
are sensible about it, then you should not have a problem adjusting to minimalist running shoes.
Do not look for an immediate change in your foot-strike. No shoe is going to reverse how you
have been running for many years in a matter of days. Shoes and every other suggestion in this
packet takes time. Distance runners should rarely look for overnight success in anything they do.
However, a gradual introduction of the shoes to your training and patience could set you on a
path to far more efficient running.
B. CONSCIOUSLY CHANGING YOUR FOOT-STRIKE
Now, it does not take a lot of work to put a minimalist running shoe on and wait to
become a more efficient runner. Needless-to-say, there are those in the midfoot-strike camp who
feel that there is more to simply wearing thinner padded shoes. They will advocate a conscious
effort to change your foot-strike. In Matt Fitzgerald’s book, The Cutting Edge Runner, he
advises a runner to land more on the forefoot by utilizing a pawing motion while running. This
means pulling the foot back in a pawing motion before it strikes the ground. By retracting the
foot before impact, instead of letting it land out in front of your body, you will eliminate heel-
striking by landing on your midfoot.
Fitzgerald’s advice makes sense if you watch a midfoot striker run. Instead of jamming
their leg into the ground heel-first, you will see them begin to pull the foot back before it hits the
ground. In fact, you will see many efficient runners run like this. Nevertheless, even though
many experts might agree with Fitzgerald’s assessment that the “pawing” motion is used by
many efficient midfoot strikers, they see a heel-striker trying to use this pawing motion (or really
any attempt to change to midfoot striking for that matter) as a step in the wrong direction. This
is because some have found that those who try to become midfoot strikers tend to tense their calf
muscles in a manner called “plantar flexion.” Because these runners become focused on not
landing heel-first, they tend to tense their calf muscle in order to ensure they are pointing their
toes downward towards the ground before their foot lands. When deliberately pointing the toes
like this, runners will tense their calf muscles. This is bad for two reasons. For one, it exhausts
the calf muscles and prematurely brings about fatigue. Secondly, it brings about injury because
the calf muscle is not meant to absorb shock in a contracted state when the foot strikes the
If you are going to focus on transforming yourself into a midfoot striker, you’d best
ensure that you keep your calf muscles relaxed. There should be no tension used to get your foot
in the desired place. The Newton running shoe company may be able to help you with this one
because they do advocate a runner lifting his feet up and placing them down when wearing the
Newton running shoes. Their land-lift-lever method almost works like marching when running.
Picture yourself marching in place (with only a subtle knee lift) where you are picking your feet
up and placing them down as you keep your calf muscles relaxed. Now imagine yourself
running in this manner. There may be something to this because running in this manner would
ensure that your feet are landing underneath your body, on the midfoot, and with relaxed calf
There is not much literature out there about forefoot striking. That’s probably because
there are not many runners who do land more towards the front of their foot. You certainly do
not hear many people encouraging a distance runner to land on his forefoot. Just the same, you
do not hear a great deal of criticism against runners who do. Most of the debate lies with heel vs.
midfoot. If you are a mid to back of the pack runner, and you land on your toes, you are in a
very small category…maybe the smallest. The vast majority of runners at your speed are heel-
strikers. If you happen to naturally land on your forefoot, you probably will not hear as much
criticism as some runners do about landing on their heel. Just the same, do not expect as many
compliments as those who land on their midfoot. You may want to look into changing your foot-
strike to land more on the midfoot. You may be running with too much tension in your calves
and if you are experiencing injuries in your lower legs, shifting to a midfoot strike may be the
answer. This may be accomplished simply by relaxing the muscles in your lower legs as your
run. But whatever you do, don’t try to become a heel-striker.
One final issue to address with foot-strike is how the toes point upon impact. What’s
been discussed so far is the heel/midfoot/forefoot question, but what about a runner whose toes
point in or out when their foot lands? What is typically taught to runners is that a foot that lands,
rolls slightly inward, and ends up with the toes pointed forward, is a normal example of
pronation. Runners with normal pronation are thought to have normal arches in their feet. A
runner whose ankle rolls excessively inward as his foot lands and whose toes then begin to point
outward, is said to be an overpronator. Overpronators are thought have low arches in their feet.
Finally, a runner whose foot does not roll inward enough, and who toes tend to point inwards, is
said to be an underpronator. Underpronators are thought to have high arches.
Now, in terms of correcting your foot placement if you under or over pronate, there is
little written about consciously trying to change your foot-strike. However, the running shoe
companies have millions invested in trying to lure runners into wearing “neutral” or “motion-
control” shoes to correct under and over pronation. There is also no shortage of orthotics on the
market that are said to correct the issue. Why correct the issue? Well, what the shoe companies
and orthotic makers plead is that the toes landing inward or outward cause excessive torque (a
rotating of the limb) and improper shock absorption. This is said to lead to an abundance of
injuries such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, etc.
Now, you will meet knowledgeable runners who claim that motion-control or neutral
running shoes and orthotics have helped them. And they could be right. However, you will also
meet some runners who say that neither shoes nor orthotics are any help. You will meet some
runners with horror stories about getting tangled in a messy web of constantly searching for
better orthotics because of continued injuries. After a while, they forget what their original
injury even was because it seems that each new pair of orthotics brings new problems with it.
The opinion of the minimalist running shoe supporters has typically been that neutral
shoes, motional-control shoes and orthotics are a waste of time. What they would argue is that
the shoes caused the injuries in the first place, and that neutral/stability-control shoes and
orthotics are treating the effect of the problem, not the cause. Minimalist running shoe advocates
would tell you that a thinly padded shoes and sensible training should keep you healthy.
Therefore, don’t waste your money on specialized shoes or orthotics.
Vertical oscillation, in basic terms, is how much you bounce up and down when you run.
If you watch a group of runners, you can always pick out the ones who have excessive vertical
oscillation because their heads bob up and down higher than the other runners in the pack.
Excessive vertical oscillation is bad. Channeling your energy this way is not only wasteful, it
also causes injury. This is because the higher you come up off the ground and the more time you
spend in the air, the harder you will come crashing down when you land. Think of how hard it
would be on your legs if you bounced up and down excessively over the course of a 12-mile long
run. Adopting running form that reduces the time you spend in the air and channels your energy
to forward propulsion is ideal.
A. STEP-COUNT TO REDUCE VERTICAL OSCILLATION
So how do you reduce vertical oscillation? The best strategy may be to increase the
amount of steps you take per minute. A higher stride cadence can reduce vertical oscillation by
eliminating the over-striding upwards bounce that leads to excessive vertical oscillation.
However, beware that too short a stride can also cause you to bounce up and down excessively.
Sometimes you do need to take a longer stride. However, it should not be to the point where
your foot lands out in front of you and you should still strive to have a high stride rate.
A method popularized by the book Daniels’ Running Formula by jack Daniels, is to
count the number of steps you take per minute and then try to increase that. Daniels, advocates
taking 180 steps per minute. To count your stride-rate, count the number of times your left foot
hits the ground over a 30 second period. Multiply that by 2 (left foot + right foot) in order to get
the total number of steps over a 30 second period. Then, multiply that number by 2 in order to
get the total number of steps during 1 minute. For example, if you count your left foot hitting the
ground 41 times over 30 seconds, you would multiply that by 2 to get 81 and then multiply that
by 2 to get 162. 162 would be 18 steps short of the 180 steps that Daniels advocates. Following
his guidelines, you would need to concentrate on taking more steps per minute. This may mean
altering your stride and it may feel awkward, but you would be guiding yourself towards more
efficient running by doing so.
Keep in mind that not all experts agree with Daniels’ magic number of 180. The book
Run Strong agrees with the premise that many runners can benefit from increasing steps per
minute, but thinks that aiming for a particular number is misguided. The book The Runner’s
Body advises that a runner not increase their stride cadence by more than 10%. For example, if
you currently take 160 steps per minute, you should not strive to go any higher than 176 steps
per minute. Therefore, 180 would be too high of a number.
B. PERHAPS A SIMPLER WAY TO REDUCE VERTICAL OSCILLATION
A simpler way of reducing vertical oscillation would be to listen to how loud you run and
try to sound softer. It’s a simple concept that works best when running on asphalt or concrete. If
you sound like a herd of cattle when you run, you are spending too much time in the air and
therefore landing hard. By focusing on sounding softer, you will probably adapt a more efficient
style of running. In essence, just try to “run light.”
CHANGES IN FORM WHEN RUNNING UPHILL AND DOWNHILL
Whether ascending or descending a hill, it is no time to get sloppy. Your form is still
important. When it comes to running up a hill, you may have heard the advice to “lean into the
hill.” This advice is fine, but the lean should come from the ankles. Too many runners drop
their heads and lean over at the waist when climbing a hill. This not only hinders your breathing,
it also ruins your efficiency. Ascending a hill during a race can be mentally taxing. The pain
can certainly kick in. However, part of being a good distance runner means you are able to focus
during bouts of pain. As you climb the hill, you can lean into it, keep your head up, arms
pumping, back straight, butt in, etc. Your foot should also be striking on the forefoot when
running up a hill, sort of like a sprinter. Don’t land flatfooted when running up a hill.
You may have heard advice to “open up your stride” when running down a hill. This is
misguided. Don’t do it. You need to focus on turning your legs over and keeping your cadence
as you come down a hill. All opening your stride will do is cause you to “brake” harder into the
ground and make an already hard impact even harder. Just like with uphill running, you want to
lean into the hill. But again, that lean should come at the ankles. Simply moving your shoulders
forward will push your hips back and butt out, thus making you less efficient. Keep proper form
and a quick turnover as you lean at the ankles.
Does breathing have anything to do with running form? Well, while you may not be able
to draw a direct correlation, your breathing is synchronized with your stride. You will often find
a rhythm where you exhale once every second foot-strike of either your left or right foot. If that
is confusing, just imagine breathing as your right foot hits the ground, then your left hits the
ground, then your right hits the ground, then your left hits the ground, and finally you breathe
again as your right hits the ground. At faster speeds, you may find that exhaling occurs with
every foot-strike of either the left of right foot. You may want to focus on keeping this pattern
when you run in order to ensure that your breathing stays rhythmic. In addition to that, your
breathing should come from deep in the diaphragm. You should not take shallow breaths from
your chest. Side stitches when running are often caused by the loss of rhythmic breathing and/or
shallow breathing. You can often rid yourself of a side stitch by trying to reestablish this
rhythm. If it happens during a race, try exhaling on the foot that is opposite of the side that your
stitch is on. It just might work.
It’s probably not a bad idea to make your breathing something you pay attention to when
running, just like your running form. After all, a side-stitch can certainly make it difficult to
keep good running form. Therefore, keep a good rhythm and breath deep.
ARE STIFFER AND LESS FLEXIBLE MUSCLES BETTER?
In the book Brain Training for Runners, Matt Fitzgerald makes a few other key
observations about ideal running form. He mentions stiffness and stability as positive qualities
in efficient distance runners. He does not mean stiffness as in a runner appearing rigid or
unsmooth when they run. What he means is that when you see an efficient runner impact the
ground as they run, you do not see them collapse into the ground as they run. If you watch an
efficient runner, you’ll see that they sort of spring right back off the ground as they run. If you
watch an inefficient runner, you may see their hip dropping excessively towards the ground
and/or their knee bending excessively with each foot-strike. Your inefficient runners kinda have
that “collapsing” look to them as they impact the ground. Efficient runners usually have more
rigid muscles that do not collapse. If you think of two pogo sticks, the efficient runners would be
a pogo stick with a rigid spring that quickly bounces back off the ground while an inefficient
runner would be pogo stick with a floppy spring that collapses further down into the ground. If
you are not blessed with stiff or stable muscles, this can probably be corrected with a steady
volume of various workouts and strength training.
Now, here’s probably the most controversial topic in this packet. This is where we
question whether or not flexibility makes you a less efficient runner. That’s right, a less efficient
runner. Authors of The Runner’s Body point out that some studies find that tighter (less flexible)
runners are more efficient than looser (more flexible) runners. Why is this? Well, what these
studies find is that your looser and more flexible muscles have to work harder to stabilize
themselves. Your tighter muscles are more compact due to their inflexibility and you won’t have
to work as hard to stabilize them. Basically, you are not as “floppy” when you are not flexible.
This does make some sense when you think of Fitzgerald describing stiff and stable as ideal in
Brain Training for Runners. Furthermore, running tends to make you less flexible in many areas
of your body. Is this perhaps your body doing what’s best for it by making you stiffer and tighter
in order to be a more efficient runner? Are you screwing yourself up by working against the
natural running form that your ancestors gave you…just like with heavily padded running shoes?
It does make you think.
Many distance runners hate to stretch. If you’re looking for a reason to quit, please do
not use the paragraph above as your excuse. Stretching is a very controversial issue. You will
find an abundance of opinions on it accompanied by endless scientific research. What The
Runners Body recommends is you may want to think about only stretching what you need to
stretch. Talk to experienced runners and you’ll find enough of them who, regardless of what the
studies say, know that they need to consistently stretch certain muscles or they will get injured.
Therefore, do not sacrifice stretching in the name of running form because if you get injured,
what good is running form when you can’t run? However, if you can get away with only
stretching what you need to, maybe you don’t need to be any more flexible than that because it’s
doing no good for your running form. It’s all just something to think about. Please research the
subject before you change your stance on stretching.
INHERENT ABILITY & RUNNING FORM
The question of inherent ability often comes into question when the topic of running form
arises. For the most part, the best runners out there are often born with smooth running form.
The fewer corrections that a runner has to make to his form, the better off he is. Often times, an
ideal body type will bring naturally good form with it. And what is the ideal “runner’s body?”
Well, most of your greatest runners would be of average or below average height, have a low
percentage of body fat, long and thin limbs, a narrow pelvis and hips with shoulders about the
same width as the hips, legs with mass geared towards the thighs and small calves, and finally,
smaller than average feet (less weight to carry at the end of limbs). You’ll find exceptions here
and there but the vast majority of runners fit into all those categories. Amongst female distance
runners, you may find their heights to be average or above average compared to the average
female. This is typically the only major difference in body type between males and females.
So what if you don’t fit into all the categories above or even none of them. Well, there’s
a good chance that you do not. Very few people do. There are six billion people on this planet
and there are only a select few who have the right body type to run a mile under four minutes.
Professional athletes work very hard, but there’s a lot more to it than hard work. Compared to
the general population, you have to hit the genetic lottery to have the ability to run a marathon
under 2 hours and 10 minutes.
You may not have the right body type to win Olympic gold medals, but that certainly
does not mean that you cannot enjoy being a competitive distance runner. After all your focus
and hard work, if all your body type will allow is a 5K in 21 minutes, there is nothing wrong
with that. Regardless of inherent ability, everyone who enters a race can set a goal. You may be
nowhere near the winner of the race, but beating a time, placing in your age group, etc. can be a
One further aspect of body type to address is body fat. According Matt Fitzgerald’s
book, Racing Weight, A runner weighing 160 pounds has to muster about 6.5% more energy to
run the same pace as a runner weighing 150 pounds. You don’t have to be an exercise
physiologist to realize that losing weight can improve your running performance. Beginning
runners will often find that their form improves after they’ve been running for a few months.
Not only does their better running form come from an increased fitness level and the body’s
adaptation to the demands of running, it also comes from weight loss. Your form can become
sharper if you shed a few pounds. And this does not only apply to beginning runners. Even the
most experienced runner can become a little sharper with some weight loss. Having 10 less
pounds to carry over the course of a race can make a big difference. For something like the 26.2
mile distance of a marathon, this could mean a difference of minutes.
Therefore, losing some body mass could improve your running form. For most people,
losing some excess fat should be the focus, but there are some who may be carrying too much
muscle as well. Distance runners need strong bodies to keep good form, but big muscles add a
good deal of weight to a runner’s body and can certainly become a hindrance. Regardless of
where your extra weight is coming from, it’s usually a good thing if you can shed excess weight.
There are exceptions to this because a runner should not get too obsessed with weight to the
point where running performance may become compromised. An unhealthy diet, such as one
where calories are too far restricted, can cost a runner in the long term. For one, not taking in
enough protein can weaken your muscles and not only hurt your performance, but lead to poor
running form. Additionally, keep in mind that caloric restriction can drain your energy, leave
you weaker, and thus limit your training to point where you can’t be out there burning as much
body fat as you normally could. In essence, if you take in a healthy amount of calories per day,
you’ll have energy to get out there and burn the fat off in a healthy manner. So, losing some
body mass can be good for your running form but you should do it in a healthy manner that
won’t risk your training or health.
One additional thing to keep in mind about running form is the impact of genetics. Also
noted in Matt Fitzgerald’s book, Racing Weight, is a Wake Forest study citing that body fat
percentage is 64% inherited. What this means is that your weight is not all about your diet and
exercise. In fact, it’s more about your parents. What you can take from this is that losing some
weight can improve your running performance, but you can run 130 miles a week and eat as
healthy as you can, but that does not mean you are going to get down to 3% body fat. Sadly,
there are some runners with the right work ethic, VO2 Max, etc. but they’ll never be amongst the
very best because they just can’t make themselves as thin as the most elite runners. But don’t
forget that there are always exceptions to the rule. When Chris Solinsky set the 10,000 meter
American record of 26:59 in April of 2010, his 162 pound body was 20 pounds heavier than any
other man who ever broke 27 minutes for that distance.
Speaking of professional runners, you may have videotaped and/or photographed
yourself running and you see some things that don’t look great about your form. Knowing how
much you lean forward, bounce up and down, etc. when you run can be difficult to assess while
you run. This visualization can be a huge help when it comes to understanding what form flaws
you may have. Still, you may be puzzled about what exactly good running form looks like. For
that, look no further than the professionals to see what good running form looks like. The pro’s
are the smoothest. Yes, you will see that they do not all have exactly the same form, but you will
notice that most of them are quite efficient. You won’t see a lot of wasted energy due to poor
running form in a professional race. You can DVR track meets or watch professional races on
www.youtube.com to see what good running form looks like. Again, they’ll all have their own
unique style, but you will see that their styles, from head to toe, fit into what’s been described as
ideal running form. Mimicking the styles of professional runners could help you improve your
form. Nevertheless, remember that it’s unlikely that you will be able to run exactly like one
particular professional distance runner or any of them. Keep in mind that they are exceptional
and possess talent and body types that the average runner does not. 2008 Olympic Men’s
Marathon Gold Medalist, Sammy Wanjiru, is 5’4” tall and weighs 112 pounds. Marathon world
record holder, Haile Gebrselassie, is 5’5” tall and weighs 123 pounds. Most guys just aren’t
built like that.
Until there is more conclusive research and a greater consensus amongst experts, running
form may remain more of an art than an exact science. It is a controversial subject and one that
can become endlessly intensive the more you research. You may feel that you would like to
change some things about your running form, but the lack of agreements on techniques and the
time required may be intimidating you. Just remember that you are probably best off by
gradually and sensibly increasing your training volume while incorporating a variety of
workouts. This is the most common and safest way to become a more efficient runner. After
that, you can start to tinker with your running form. As long as you’ve done some research and
you don’t drastically jump into anything, you should be fine. If you try changing your stride rate
or try wearing minimalist running shoes and things don’t work, you don’t have to stick with it.
Even if you aren’t exactly sure if the methods you are trying are sound, carefully experimenting
with suggestions from running experts, experienced coaches, and experienced runners should not
damage your running and may even greatly help you.
Remember that any attempt to change your running form should be given time. You
have to have patience when it comes to distance running. Benefits from most everything in this
packet will not happen in a short period of time. You have to give things a chance. If you’ve
been running in a certain manner all your life, it could take weeks or months for some of the
methods in this packet to begin to change your running form. You are not going to put a pair of
minimalist running shoes on and drop three minutes of your 5K time. Quick fixes and overnight
results are not a part of distance running.
However, even if there are many needed improvements in your running form, there is no
reason to throw in the towel. Improving your running form may take a good deal of time and
hard work, but you could reap enormous benefits. You really have to be patient when it comes
to changing your running form. It can be painstaking, but you’ll do it if you’re serious about
being a better runner.