There are various elements that make up good running technique, understanding these and putting them into practise should bring more enjoyment and better performance to your running.
Posture: Adopting a tall and upright posture is important; this can be done by ensuring high hips, relaxed shoulders with head upright, looking forwards and not down. Poor posture may restrict blood circulation to the muscles and oxygen intake.
Breathing: Oxygen is used by the muscles to convert stored fuels into usable energy. So the more oxygen taken in, the more efficient the running is. Using the maximum lung capacity is therefore important hence deep breathing from the stomach is best. When running hard, breath intake will be through the mouth as breathing capacity can go up to 120-150 litres per minute. The maximum amount of air that can be taken through the nose is 50 litres per minute.
Flexibility: Having flexible joints, muscles and tendons will increase your range of movement and ensure your running is most effective. Flexibility will be improved through exercise and effective stretching.
Arms: The arms should be bent at approximately 90 to 110 degrees and able to swing backwards and forwards, the shoulder muscles power the arm movement which should be in a straight line and not across the body. A strong backwards arm drive leads to efficient running. The rhythm of the arm swing dictates the speed/cadence of the legs. As you approach cruise speed, the forearms should be parallel to the ground during mid-swing.
Legs: The feet should be pointing forward in the direction of movement. The lead leg drives forward with the knee bent to about 90 degrees and then this swing leg is driven down to the ground (landing on the forefoot if possible) this in turn initiates knee lift on the other leg whilst the heel of the initial lead leg is raised towards the buttock.
It should be noted that arms and legs are working with opposite movements i.e. if left arm is driving backwards right leg is driving forwards.
Stay Relaxed: Remain relaxed at all times trying not to tense any muscles. If you smile, the facial and shoulder muscles will be relaxed. Avoid clenching the fists as this will lead to tension in the arms and shoulders. Be aware of what is going on around you and be ready to respond accordingly. Always, keep a good sense of humour, running may feel hard but it doesn’t need to hurt.
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”— Steve Prefontaine