Today we are going to talk about running! I got running school as birthday gift and as I feel it having been super-useful for myself, I also want to share the top tips I have learned here in the blog. There will be so many tips though that I’m going to split them into several posts. These will act as good checklist also for myself later on when there will be a need to recap what was it that I learned : )
It is very hard to evaluate ones own running technique so in case you have time and/or money to spare, I would warmly recommend going to a running school. The course doesn’t even need to be very long – even few times might do as that enables you to get feedback from a professional on what are the main things you should focus on. In case you are not able to invest into a running school at this point, no worry. I hope some of the tips I share in my mini-series here will help you to be more aware of your running style and test out few things to find the correct running flow.
So my Tip number one is: Observe your running technique and recognize are you falling into some of the most common mistakes
It’s good to observe your running technique critically once a while as it might change due time. Thus it’s good the have a check once a while if the basics are still OK. Good running technique is important for two reasons:
- Running is more efficient – you can run faster/longer more easily
- Reducing the risk of injuries
Most common mistakes that runners usually fall into are the following, so pay close attention to these in your own running style:
- Wrong foot landing: Many runners step too much either on their heel or on their ball of the foot. Out of these two, the latter is worse as that increases the burden towards the foot and thus increases risk of injury. Both of these “wrong” foot landings also eat efficiency and energy by inhibiting the forward movement instead of boosting it. Right foot landing is right in the middle of the foot so that your angle remains in 90 degree and thus gives nice bounce to your running (more details on this coming in the next posts)
- Striding too much: Often runners take too long steps (which in turn might increase the risk of landing on heel instead of the middle part of the foot). Increased running cadence is usually more efficient and also secures more balanced movement (not jumping up and down, but focusing going forward). Recommended cadence is 85-90 steps per minute. Many sports watches measure cadence and thus it’s easy to check if your cadence is on correct frequency!
- Running posture: Posture can often be too straight or at worse even leaning backwards. Correct running posture is leaning a bit forward. This usually also helps to get the foot landing to hit more naturally in the middle of the foot. Correcting the posture can though often be hard: if you are used to lean backwards and start leaning a bit more forward, it easily feels very weird. It also often feels that after the first correction you already feel that you are leaning forward a lot, even though you have just managed to e.g. get yourself to the neutral / straight posture. Sensing your own posture is sometimes very biased. I have experienced this recently especially in the yoga: I think I’m in perfect pose but when I take a photo of it, I realize I’m actually far from it ; )
- Gazing downwards: While running, Many start accidentally gazing tips of their shoes or few meter in front. This easily results into bad running posture e.g. putting too much pressure on shoulders and neck. Correct way is to gaze right forward which helps naturally your posture to be firm straight line (though still remembering to lean forward as mentioned above).
- Forgetting to use hands / having stiff hands: Many ignore the importance of the hand movement. Hands are often very stiff or then the trajectory stays very limited. Using hands properly gives rhythm to the running and boosts your movement especially when running faster. Hands should swing in a firm, but relaxed manner along side your body and the trajectory should be well in front and behind your body. Arms should stay all the time in relaxed 90 degree angle.
- Running too fast: When the running motivation hits you, it’s easy to do too fast runs. It’s important to remember to keep some of the exercises in the lighter zone in order to also strengthen your durability. Depending your condition level the speed of your long run can be very slow. Measuring your hearth rate can help define the correct speed. If you don’t won a hearth rate measurement device, a good rule of thumb is that you should be able to speak without being too out of breath during the whole run.
When entering the running school I was convicted being guilty of 4 out of the 6 most common mistakes – some more, some less severely. I was apparently landing too much on my heel and my posture was too upwards. I was also gazing way too down (as more some reason I’m obsessed to follow how my feet work) and I have been running my long runs way too fast, way too soon. So, it seems I have some work to do before stepping to the marathon starting line : )
Often the above mentioned “mistakes” are boosting each others, so by fixing one you might suddenly see improvement also in two other ones. I hope this list helps you to observe your own running technique. And if you identify some challenges – in the upcoming posts I’m going to share the exercises that I have personally felt the best for myself to firstly understand how correct technique should feel and then secondly fix it while running for real.