Learning to run can be overwhelming. Everywhere you read, someone is trying to give you advice. It’s easy to get confused about what you should and should not focus on. You’ll still want to make sure you are practicing good habits early on, as you will find it’s the easiest way to improve. Practicing bad habits will only slow down your progress and make it harder to work on your form later.
Here are three easy ways to improve your form when learning to run:
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Relax your upper body
You are not sprinting, so there’s no need to tense up your upper body. When you relax your shoulders and arms, you’ll expend far less energy than running tensed up. If you are having trouble doing this, try running while holding raw (or imaginary) eggs. The relaxation needed in your hands will prevent you from tensing up the rest of your upper body.
Training yourself to run relaxed and in a way that you can maximize forward movement (without bouncing up and down or shifting your weight excessively from side to side) can help you maximize your potential to run faster.
Focus on your breathing
Breathing might be the most important thing that can influence your performance. Practicing breathing techniques in the early stages of learning can help runners maximize their oxygen intake and remain relaxed. The general rule of thumb for distance running is to breathe normally, whether you naturally breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, or whether you mostly breathe through your mouth. The more you practice your breathing during exercise, the easier you’ll find it to get into a rhythm on your run.
Focusing on your breath can also help your body remain relaxed for the long haul and keep your form intact.
Pick up your feet
A bad habit you commonly see in new runners is the dragging of the feet. When runners drag their feet, they put more pressure on their knees during each stride. Try opening up your stride, and instead lift one foot over the other (like you are climbing a small ladder). This technique puts your centre of gravity at the hips, glutes and core, therefore, you will naturally generate more power on each step.
If this technique feels awkward at first, throw your pace out the window and focus on getting more comfortable bringing one foot over the other.
These three easy tips on running form are bound to make you a better, stronger and faster runner within weeks.