Good Posture, Good Form
Good posture and form allows your body to run more efficiently, which could mean you cover more ground with each step while using the same amount of energy. Also, with your motion better directed towards moving forward, you’re less likely to shift some of the pounding to body parts that aren’t designed to absorb it, and that should reduce your risk of injury.
The 2014 Boston Marathon runner Meb Keflezighi explains;
“It’s easy for poor running mechanics to throw your body out of whack by just one bad element in your running form, eg. If your head is thrust forward in front of your body rather than being in line with your shoulders and trunk, you might over-stride, lean forward too much or have longer ground contact time- or all three!
That’s going to lead to bringing your hamstring up more behind you than underneath you, which in turn, lead to cramping or injury & you’ll be slower”
5 Key body positions
1) Head; held level (as if balancing something on you head), looking 20-30m ahead, ears above shoulders, don’t let chin jut forward.
2) Stomach & Back; Engage your mid-section when running, some tension/tone in abdominal muscles holds good back posture without fatiguing the back muscles.
3) Leg swing; When your right leg leaves the ground and swings forward, your right foot should drive towards the level of your left knee. Reaching calf height is a good goal for people who currently shuffle. Doing so will make your body more upright and help you cover ground with each stride, without over-striding.
4) Landing position; Feet should land under your centre of gravity. If you over-stride with your feet landing well in front of you = you’ll brake slightly with every step and spend more time on the ground rather than transitioning quickly to your next step.
5) Arm carriage; Drive arms in the direction you’re moving, not across your body. Elbows bent about 90* hands move backwards to hip/waist.
Form check list
Pros run with a quick cadence and not much ground contact time. They work on 180 steps a minute. Count the number of times one foot hits the ground, a good target is 90, that equates to 180 steps a minute.
Drills improve running form by strengthening key muscles, improving range of motion, boosting the communication between your nervous system and muscles, and by making you more mindful of good form. Ideally performed a couple of times a week.
There isn’t enough space in this article to properly illustrate all the drills that would be beneficial, so I’m just going to highlight a few which you can see demonstrations of on YouTube.
1) Skipping; This increases stride length & knee lift and improve single-leg balance. Skip forward lifting knee to 90*, tuck foot up under bottom then kick foot out straight in front of you for 20m rest & repeat.
2) Grapevine step; This helped reduce ground contact time & give you a quicker, more efficient turnover. It can also improve knee lift and hip range of motion. Grapevine 20m then reverse direction back to start.
3) Jump, hop, hop; This teaches your running muscles to work in sync with each other, increases your push-off power, improving your ability to move in all three planes to motion & strengthen (often) neglected muscles. Jumps and hops cover a few meters in each direction.
4) Lunge; This builds strength throughout your core and improve your balance. Walking lunges 20m lifting knee to 90* then repeat walking backwards. Sideways walking 10steps each side with the lateral cross-over lunges.
5) Lateral squats; This engages gluteal muscles and improves your balance. Start squat with knees & feet together, step sideways & squat with legs shoulder width apart, moving 20m in each direction.