How to improve my running technique
You love running, but how often do you think about form, style and technique? Like any high-impact activity, proper technique in running can improve performance and reduce injury risk. Find out how to improve your running technique.
Know your running gait
Do you know whether you're an overpronator, a neutral runner or a supinator? The way you stand, walk and run on your feet will determine a lot, from the type of running shoes you should wear to your likelihood of picking up injuries. Walk over a dry surface with wet feet and take a look at the footprint you leave behind. If the print looks pretty full, like a regular footprint of your sole and toes, you are a neutral runner. This means your strike the foot with your heel first, then roll through the foot onto your toes, with your arch absorbing the impact. If your footprint looks large and flat, with very little arch showing, you are an overpronator, which means that your arches collapse as you run (and as you stand and walk), and don't provide much impact absorption. If your foot print has a large blank space where the arch should be, you are a supinator (this is the least common of the three). This means your foot doesn't flex much as you run, making each footfall very hard and solid.
Are you wearing the correct running shoes?
Now you know what kind of running gait you have, you need to make sure you have the correct type of running shoes. Visit a specialist running shop if you can, as they will have the technology, experience and stock to suit your needs. Depending on your gait, you will to choose shoes with the correct kind of cushioning, flexibility and weight.
Stay relaxed from head to toe
It's important to stay as relaxed as possible whether you're doing longer slower runs, or harder faster races. Concentrate on relaxing your face, neck, wrist and hands, and breathing steadily.
Running drills for better technique
It's all too easy to fall into the habit of running sloppily, with heavy, slow footfall. Not only does this lead to a slower pace and the inability to pick up the pace during training runs and races, but can lead to injury. Become aware of running technique with a few key drills.
High knees: this will increase your stride frequency and speed, enabling you to lift your knees and pick up the pace when you need to.
How to: once you're warmed up, pick up the pace so you are running at an exaggerated pace with a very high knee action. Keep your torso straight and upright. Don't worry about speed, the focus is on how many strides you can take, and how little time your feet spend in contact with the ground. Do this for about 20-30 metres.
Bounds: increasing explosive power and strength so you can increase the ground you cover with each stride
How to: warm up, and then take large, bounding strides. Each stride has a high knee lift and bounds both forwards and upwards. Keep your head up and torso straight, and use your arms to help the momentum. Do about 10 strides on each leg in a continual movement, left then right and so on.
Glute kick: like high knees, this will increase your stride frequency so you can run quickly and more efficiently when you need to pick up the pace.
How to: once you're warmed up, pick up the pace as you did with high knees, but this time picking up the feet in an exaggerated movement behind you. The focus is on quick, nimble strides, kicking your bottom with your heel each time. Lean forward very slightly. Do this for about 20 metres each time.