How to Run with Good Form

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 Each beginner runner should follow these three simple steps when starting to learn to run.   For any runner to achieve the best race results, running efficiently, relaxed and with good form is required. More than anything else, practicing good running form will carry you to the finish line safely and enjoyably.


Good Running Form



1.  Good Posture

The first important step or habit when beginning to run is having good posture.  Proper posture means keeping your back straight, keeping your head up, looking straight keeping an eye on the road or trail ahead of you.

With your back aligned straight, your arms can swing with a good motion.  When running, your body might be leaning slightly forward which is fine but not too much.

As shown in the image above, the back posture is straight with a slight forward lean while keeping the chest, shoulders, and head up.  The arms are bent at 90 degree angle.


2. Cadence

The next important step in running is having a good consistent cadence.  This means the rate at which your feet strike the ground. Each person will have their own cadence rate, but the key is how far each foot lands in front of you.  If your foot lands too far forward, then your foot lands on the heel, which is not ideal or recommended.

Ideally you want each foot to land on the mid to forefoot area to maximize each stride.  For beginners, you probably want to have a shorter stride length and have a higher  cadence (stride rate), though, you force yourself to take smaller steps, with your foot landing directly underneath you. This minimizes up/down movement and translates that energy into forward momentum.

Once you have your stride rate down, you can gradually increase your stride length to gain more speed.  Over time, you will need to ensure your feet are landing on the midfoot to forefoot areas and your cadence and stride are consistent.


So what should your cadence be?  For beginners, it seems that a stride of 120-180 steps/minute is right for most people.  To start off, check your cadence when you are running by counting how often your left foot touches the ground in a minute. If the number is 60 or higher, pat yourself on the back and go for another run. If the number is lower than 60, then you should look at changing your cadence. Your cadence does not have to be exactly 60-90, and is likely to change somewhat with your pace and terrain.  Ideally for faster runners, you want a cadence of 90 steps for each foot (i.e. 180 steps/minute for both feet).


3.  Good Arm and Leg Motion

Having the correct Arm Position is important for maintaining a good cadence. If your arms are too low it will be quite difficult to keep your cadence high.

When you run, each arm acts as a counterbalance. Also, each arm acts as a pendulum - it swings back and forward.   The time it takes for a pendulum to swing depends on its length.   The lower your hands are when you run, the slower your arms will swing. Likewise, the higher your hands are, the faster they will swing.  To have a good Cadence you need to have your arms held reasonably mid level to the high range.  If you are struggling to keep your Cadence high, check your arm position.

In addition to your arm motion, your leg motion is important in keeping your cadence in balance.  You want each foot to land in the mid to forefoot area to maximize each stride.  Each leg stride motion should be balanced with your arm stride motion.

Last, keep your arms and legs bent!  The less you bend your arms and legs, the more work your muscles have to do when you're running.  An arm or leg that is bent at the knee or elbow will swing much easier than one that is straight.
Which step(s) do you feel is the most important for keeping good running form?

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