As I went for a run on my 5 mile loop the other day, on a gorgeous spring day – sunny, warm, soft breeze – I was really feeling my run. After about a mile, I found the rhythm of my feet on the pavement, matched with a nice easy breath. It was a great run. And then I almost tripped over a dog that darted in front of me. Dumb dog…okay it wasn’t the dog’s fault. And it really didn’t dart in front of me. As I struggled to regain my balance and stay on my feet, I realized that I was surrounded by so many things. There was a world of commotion and lots of beautiful spring foliage to take in. Yet, here I was, trodding along, looking down at the ground. I wondered why I did that. Why didn’t I look up and forward when I ran? I was out enjoying my run and not enjoying any of my surroundings.
According to Jeff Galloway and Runners World Magazine, not only am I missing out on some of the great things about running, I am also exhibiting poor running form. Here are some of their tips for good running form:
2. Shoulders: Keep your shoulders relaxed and loose. Pull your shoulder blades down and back away from your ears. Keeping your shoulders tight and scruntched will waste energy.
3. Torso: The ideal posture as running tall, which means that you stretch yourself up to full height with no strain from the torso. This will allow you to breathe maximally and put your body in the optimal biomechanical position for moving forward. As Jeff Galloway says: “Your torso is only along for the ride.”
4. Legs: Sprinters lift their knees very high when they run, but for distance running, and even shorter distances, keep your knees low. It takes a lot of energy to lift your knees, and even running a mile will be tough if you do so. Instead, quicker ankle action will help you increase your speed.
5. Ankles: Your ankles are efficient levers that have the potential for great power when you run. Feel your calf muscles and ankles work as you push off on each step.
6. Arms: Arms should remain close to the body and swing forward and back and not across your body to minimize torso rotation. Your hands should not cross the midline of your body and the swing should be held low, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and relaxed. You should do most of the work with your lower arms; the upper arms should not move very much.
7. Hands: What to do with your hands? Cup your hands by gently touching your thumb to the top half of your index fingers. It’s as if you are holding a small bird that you don’t want to fly away but you don’t want to squeeze too tight either.