WHAT DOES GREAT RUNNING TECHNIQUE LOOK LIKE?
As a PE Teacher I often ask myself the question about how I am going to help people get better. In many ways I do not think most people consider running to be a skill. But as an incredibly keen runner, as a teacher, as someone wanting to get faster and push for better times, and now as a Coach in Running Fitness, I am very aware that running technique is difficult if you want to do it well.
So in this article I have one aim…to break endurance running down into simple bullet points for people to follow. If you would like any further explanation please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@fitnessgazette) or on Instagram (@jimmy_fg_running).
Great Technique in Bullet Points
- Your shoulders should be low and relaxed.
- You should have a 90 degree (or less) bend in your arms.
- Your arms should remain close to the side of your body with the a focus on the elbow driving backwards.
- The arms should set the tempo of the run with a rhythmic forward and backward motion.
- The hands should never cross the mid line of the body.
- There should be a little bit of rocking or rotation at the shoulder and hips as you run. Too much however will waste energy and too little will limit relaxation and flow.
- Stand tall and think about having hips high.
- The heel should recover close to your buttocks.
- Your knee should drive up and forward – but this will be dependent on the speed you are running at.
- Toes up (ankle flexion) allows you to generate power through ankle extension as you push off the ground.
- There should be a slight forward lean starting at the ankle when your foot is in contact with the ground. This allows you to fall efficiently into the next stride.
- Your foot should strike the ground under your body. If everything is working as it should this might mean that you land on the forefoot. But let things happen naturally. Which part of the foot strikes the ground is less important than where it strikes in relation to your body.
- Think about a dynamic foot strike, strike the ground down and backwards.
- Focus on relaxation.
- Relaxation and rhythm generate speed rather than out and out effort.
I would highly recommend filming yourself on the treadmill from side on and from behind to check out your technique. If you do this with an app like Coach’s Eye you can slow it down, and draw lines to see just how things are working. Film yourself at your intended race pace to get the best idea of how efficient your technique really is.
If you are trying to improve your technique it is very difficult to develop everything in one go. Prioritise what you are working on. Choose one part of the technique and spend time focusing on it. Dedicated practice over a number of weeks should bring about real change.
A good session to develop technique is 10 x 30s intervals with 90s active rest between. It is very hard to focus on technique for long periods. The aim is to make it automatic and that only comes with time. Concentrate on what you are trying to do for 30s, and then switch off for 90s until the next interval starts. The interval is not about effort – it is about technical focus and practice.
Learn from the best. Check out this clip of the Nike Breaking 2 Runners and how their technique is analysed.