We talked about how to start running in our previous article. In this article I would like to talk about ways that can help you run with correct technique. At first I would recommend trying to implement below mentioned changes during our warm up at CrossFit Committed (if running is included) or during your own running warm up. Once you become comfortable with these technique adjustments in your training, try to focus on them every time you run.
Posture: Amateur runners often waste energy because of wrong posture – you can often see weak shoulder rolling forward, incorrect use of arms, rounded backs or running in a position where you lean backwards. To achieve a correct posture for running, your feet should be under your hips with your toes pointing forward. Your body should be upright and you want to think about getting the top of your head as tall as possible. Your torso should be tight, so that you don’t overextend in your lower back. Your arms should be relaxed and bend in the elbow to 90°. They should be moving straight forward and backwards while running.
The best way how to see your running technique is to take a video of it. You will be surprised of how different your style actually looks like from what you thought it looked like.
Running cadence: While speeding up, majority of runners will make their stride longer while keeping the same, slow cadence. If they want to make a long step, they have to lift their center of gravity a few centimeters higher which results in “jumping” that is not effective. Another negative effect of “jumping style” is that with every stride the runner lands on the ground from higher height and there is a heavy impact that can lead to injuries (we do a few hundred thousand steps on every run and you get this impact with every single step).
If you want to speed up, your goal should not be to make your stride longer, but to increase running cadence. Correct cadence is at least 90 double steps per minute – 90x on left and 90x on right foot every minute (if you look at videos of elite runners, you will see that even at the end of marathon, they are able to maintain this high frequency). You also minimize vertical motion and lower the time you spend in contact with the ground when you increase running cadence. Therefore you can land more lightly and you minimize the possibility of injury.
Foot movement: When you run with a correct technique, you should feel your feet moving up and down rather than forward and backwards. Back leg is lifted towards your glutes and an acute angle is created in the knee which results in shorter “pendulum” of the swinging leg. The important part is that with same amount of energy, the shorter “pendulum” will make your legs move faster and it will make increasing running cadence easier. After your foot lifts off, your swinging leg starts to extend in the knee and your foot lands on the ground again. The contact with the ground happens under the center of your gravity. While running you should feel that the foot of your swinging leg comes straight up to your glutes and then goes straight down.
Landing: If you want to decrease the time that your foot is in contact with the ground, you have to change the way in which your foot lands on the ground with every step. Your foot can land in 3 ways: on the heel, on the front of your foot or on the middle of your foot when the heel and the front of your foot land at the same time.
Majority of slow runners land on their heel. With this landing your knee extends, foot is in front and toes are pointed up. This movement is similar to stopping. When the heel makes contact with the ground and the toes are up in the air, the only way how to spring back up is to get the weight to your toes. It takes a lot of time and energy to go from breaking motion back to speeding up. In addition, the impact of this landing goes to the entire body because the heel is not prepared for absorption of the impact.
Most elite runners land on the front part of their foot. Even though it looks like they land with their entire foot, the heel touches only lightly. Leg bends in the knee right before landing which results in foot directly under athletes body. When the runner lands, the weight goes immediately to the front of the foot and the runner can spring back up from the toes. The front of your foot is perfectly made for absorption of impacts. Your foot has got 26 bones connected by ligaments. Majority of these bones spread sideways while landing and they absorb the landing similarly to a damper in a car. It is important to get used to this style of running and get your ligaments continually prepared for this.