The Internet website ChatGPT is making headlines for its capability to immediately respond to questions, provide in-depth information and engage in conversation with users. ChatGPT can perform a variety of tasks, translate languages, summarize text and generate creative writing. But can it teach us how to run?

group of runners
Photo: Unsplash/Gabin-Vallet

We asked the software if it could teach us the basics, and it offered the following surprisingly helpful tips:

  1. Warm-up: Start with a 5-10 minute warm-up to get your body ready for running. This can be walking, jogging or dynamic stretching.
  2. Posture: Stand tall with your shoulders relaxed and your arms at your sides. Keep your gaze forward and your head up.
  3. Foot strike: When you start running, make sure to land on the midfoot or forefoot rather than the heel. This will reduce the impact on your legs and prevent injury.
  4. Arm swing: Swing your arms naturally to help maintain balance and momentum. Keep your elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle.
  5. Breathing: Inhale and exhale deeply and regularly to maintain a steady breathing pattern.
  6. Pace: Start with a slow and comfortable pace and gradually increase as you get into a rhythm.
  7. Cool down: After you’re done running, it’s important to cool down. This can include walking, stretching, or foam rolling.

But upon closer examination, some of the tips are not that helpful. For example, tip 2: It definitely is not natural to hold your arms at your sides when you’re running. Instead, pretend you are carrying an egg and hinge your arms at a roughly 90-degree angle, while keeping your upper arms relaxed.

runners compete on track for Tracksmith brand
Photo: Instagram/@tracksmithrunning

Tip 3 is incorrect. Although midfoot to forefoot running may be seen as more efficient for some well-trained runners, research has shown that runners should hit the ground in whatever way feels natural, provided they are not overstriding. A 2019 study on heel strikers and midfoot strikers did not find any significant differences in running economy between the two. It also found that heel strikers who switched to midfoot striking had poor running economy. Our recommendation is not to worry about your footstrike—run to your own ability and stick to what feels natural.

Four and five are two simple form tips that can help you run faster and more efficiently. One thing many runners do during their warmup is deep breathing exercises to help the body feel relaxed (though you should just breathe naturally while actually running–don’t focus on trying to breathe more deeply than usual). 

Like Tip 1, cooling down is just as important as warming up. Walking or jogging for five to 15 minutes is an easy way to recover and let your heart rate come down after a run. Many people enjoy foam rolling and find it beneficial, but it’s something you can do to aid recovery after you’ve cooled down, not as a way of cooling down.

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