The quality of your workout is often more important than the quantity. Good running technique can influence your speed, injury risk, and comfort. On your next run, ask yourself if you are applying the 5 keys outlined below.
1. Foot strike. Your foot should land underneath your body—not in front of it. Many runners will over-stride in an effort to run farther. As a result, your forward momentum is stunted by the angle of your foot on the ground.
2. Run tall. Basically this one is really simple—you should be running tall and not hunched over. Focus on running with your chest proud and your shoulders down. This rings true when running up and down inclines as well.
3. Use a quick cadence. Cadence is often discussed when talking to triathletes and cyclists while on the bike. It is also important when running. When you bring your feet down (right underneath your body), make sure you are picking them back up again quickly. Aim for a cadence of 85-95 steps per minute on each leg. A good way to check is to count the number of times your foot touches the ground on the right side for 20 seconds, then multiply by 3.
4. Arms at side. Many runners will move their arms across their bodies or rotate through their trunk. Try to remember you want your arms to pump you forward, not diagonal. My old track coach used to say that you should move your arms like you would if you were playing tug of war, forward and backward at a 90 degree angle.
5. Head up. You should look ahead about 5 feet to keep your body in alignment. Head position works together to keep the chest tall and to concentrate on the posterior motion that helps your forward momentum. I often find this hardest to accomplish when running on the treadmill, I'm vertically challenged so to watch the TV, I have to raise my head.
The cool thing is that all these form tips flow together. If I’m running tall, my head tends to be up high. If I’m hitting my cadence, then I’m naturally bringing my foot down right where it should land. If all those other things are on point, then my arms are naturally pumping back and forth at my side.