Good running form is more efficient and so becomes extra important when planning new goals (such as your first half marathon). It can also help to prevent injury. Here are five top tips to work on over the next few weeks. I suggest that you work on only one thing per run and maybe focus on the same thing for 2-3 weeks. You need to give your body time to adjust.
1 Run Tall with high hips
Here’s a good test – stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and clasp your hands, extending your arms above your head. Reaching your hands up can help bring your hips forward, so they’re aligned with your shoulders. This can help you get the right posture to start with. When you run try to focus on the horizon, sometimes with cross country running we do need to look down but try to do it with just your eyes.
2 Use your hands and arms wisely
Keep your elbows bent about 90 degrees and try to avoid upper body rotation as your run. Pretend you are holding a crisp between your index finger and thumb this helps to maintain a lose grip which is important because if your hands are tense they will cause extra tension up through the arm and waste precious energy.
3 Lean from your ankles not your waist
Here’s another test – stand as if you are about to sprint off the line. Look how your body naturally leans forward from your ankles. Keeping your body in this kind of position means your body leads your feet helping to conserve energy. If you lean back you are more like to heel strike which can cause injury problems. Your feet need to land under your body giving you more power to propel yourself forward.
4 Push forward from your feet
Runners often tend to bound up vertically, which uses energy you could be putting toward more mileage. Instead, focus on pushing forward from the balls of your feet. This is where proper posture and an ankle lean come in. Lean back, and it’s nearly impossible to push forward with a heel strike; lean forward from the waist, and you’re in your own way. Proper posture and a slight ankle lean can help keep your feet under your body, making it easier for you to push your mileage.
5 Quick feet – cadence
Your ideal cadence can depend on your height, weight and body mechanics. The advantage of a faster cadence is that you can’t waste energy lifting your knees too high or bounding upwards. I’ve noticed there is more and more technical stuff out there for monitoring your cadence but for those of us just starting to think about it the simplest way might be to just say to yourself as you run “quick feet”. Keeping this in mind can help improve cadence without getting too complicated about it!