10 Important Tips For Improving Your Running
Why would I pay to run? What could a coach do for me? How does having a coach improve my performance when it comes to running?
Running has always been a massive part of my life and as a once elite sprinter and now run coach, I often get asked what my top tips to improve running technique are?
In this post today I will answer this question or at least give you an insight into how we think as run coaches. This will provide some useful tips which will help you all improve your technique and achieve your running goals.
1. Technique plays a huge part in performance and injury prevention and is perhaps often overlooked. I agree that running is cheap and an easy physical activity to do as long as you have good technique otherwise it can become very expensive! Physiotherapy and massage sessions are not cheap once your health cover runs out! The StudioForty6 run coaches focus on technique in their Wednesday interval sessions. Technique is so important to us that we send all our runners to a Physiotherapist who takes them through a series of assessments to look for potential problems or red flags as we call them. We believe if we can identify any imbalances or weaknesses then we can set programs to improve and re-balance the body and therefore improving performance. We typically look at……
Head: Keep your head up and gaze forward at the ground in front of you and concentrate on trying to run in a straight line. Your jaw and neck should be relaxed.
Torso: Bend slightly forward from the waist to create a bit of a forward lean. Keep your upper body aligned, steady and relaxed. Stand tall and avoid rotating through the torso.
Hips: Hips should be in line with head and shoulders. Your foot should strike directly under your hips, your center of gravity.
Shoulders: Keep them relaxed and square, and do not hunch over because this only wastes energy in areas that you do not require.
Arms: Arms should be held low and relaxed with elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Your arms should swing forward and back in a straight line so that your elbows are always pointed straight back. The arm movement should help to minimize rotation of the torso. Arms should move in conjunction with your legs. Remember that the tempo of the arms should match that of your legs and feet. Increasing the range of motion and speed of your arm movements will propel you forward faster.
Hands: Your thumbs should rest on the top half of your index fingers while hands make a gentle fist. This will help avoid any tightness in your arms, which may drift into your shoulders, neck, and lower back, causing an unproductive and uncomfortable stride. Your hands swing up and back thus minimizing any rotation of the torso.
Midfoot: Landing on your Midfoot first rather than striking on your heels reduces strain on the knee, joints and bones while at the same time creating forward momentum for the body. If you’re not sure where your midfoot landing is, try marching on the spot with each step landing flat and directly under the hip. This is how your foot strike should feel each stride. This will help avoid the over striding many runners experience when they make the mistake of trying to run faster by reaching the foot too far out in front of their body.
2. Correct Footwear is also crucial when it comes to both performance and injury prevention. Make sure you are properly fitted by experts when deciding what shoes to run in. There cannot be any compromises when choosing the optimal footwear that will best support and protect your feet while running. Many shoe retailers have Podiatrists or staff expertly trained to help you make those decisions. Video analysis will also reinforce to you which shoes will perform best when on your feet. I strongly recommend having two pairs of runners to enable you to rotate their wear and maximize their longevity and performance.
3. Weekly Run Program or having a system and a plan to your running will also assist your enjoyment and success. I recommend to all my runners to structure their running around three harder running days per week punctuated by a shorter easier ‘recovery’ or ‘absorption’ type run in between. Typically, a Long Tempo Run will always be followed by a shorter run, say half the length in distance, to not only recover but also allow the body adequate rest to grow, adapt and benefit from the efforts of the previous day.
4. Find a goal worth running for! Running, for its own sake, just isn’t that much fun at first. Yes, once you get better at, it can be relaxing, meditative, invigorating, and even fun. But not at first. That’s why it’s crucial to set little steps that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Dress that goal up and make it as attractive as possible. It will be hard and not much fun, but knowing you have a reason for doing it and where that goal sits in the big picture will help drive and motivate you. The trick is knowing which goal to choose. As a run coach I find most people are stirred up by goals that push them to the limit and outside their comfort zone.
My job then is to consult with my runners which run events or distances they feel they can safely achieve. I urge everyone to set and strive for a goal that feels challenging but not out of the question. In that way, all your efforts to achieve your goal will feel well worth it once you climb what several months ago, seemed like the impossible peak.
Written by Tony Giannone, a qualified Level 2 run coach with Athletics Australia. Tony, in collaboration with StudioForty6, has been running event based Run Groups for over 6 years.