This article was written by Jay Revan – a professional boxing coach and athlete with a huge wealth of knowledge in fitness and running.
Struggling with your running technique? Not feeling at your best when tearing up the tarmac? Fear not runners, read on for my top 5 tips to improve your running technique and overall performance – you will be hitting PB’s in no time!
Tip 1: Get The Correct Running Posture
Having enjoyed running both socially and competitively my whole life, I have always understood the importance of correct running posture. From running long distance as a schoolboy to running full and half marathons in my adult years, using correct posture has always played a big part in my runs.
If you have never had the correct guidance or if you have recently started running, this crucial point will get missed most of the time. As a starting point and to keep things as simple as possible: you should always remember to try to ‘run tall’.
Running tall is a basic coaching point I tend to use when trying to get a client to visualise what the correct running posture should look like.
Keep your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle to maximise efficiency and remember to never clench your fists. Keeping your hands relaxed at all times will prevent unnecessary tension through the upper body.
Keep your head and eyes facing forward at all times, broaden your chest and keep your shoulders down and back. This will help to maintain a strong posture throughout your run. You want to feel as tall as possible when running, so staying relaxed throughout is also super important.
Tip 2: Improve Your Running Stride
Running at its simplest seems relatively self explanatory, right? You wouldn’t be completely wrong to assume running is a simple as grabbing your shoes and just hitting the road. But, there is a little more to it than that.
Although running is one of the cheapest, easiest and most effective ways to improve your general fitness levels, it is crucially important to have a solid running stride.
Improving your running stride will enable you to not only run more effectively, but will also ensure you avoid injury. When running, your feet should land directly underneath your body. As your foot strikes the ground, your knee should be slightly flexed so that it can bend naturally on impact. If the lower leg extends straight out in front of your body, your stride is too long.
Try landing with your foot as close to flat as possible and ensure your stride is heel to toe – too much toe in the air will cause your heel to have a greater impact with the ground, and this can cause injury to the foot, shins, hips and lower back.
The next time you head out for a run, try to focus on your running stride for as long as possible.
Tip 3: Use Strength Training To Improve Your Running
For me personally, this next tip is probably one of the most important ones. This is something that all runners should implement to ensure their running journey is a long and successful one!
Strength training has the potential to reduce your injury risk by correcting muscle imbalances and improving muscle activation. By increasing the efficiency of your running biomechanics, you will improve your overall running performance.
If you’re feeling a little lost as to where to start with strength training, I always recommend you get advice and direction from a professional within the industry. This will cost you, but the knowledge of a professional will ensure you are following the correct programme for your goals and performing the correct movements that will benefit you most.
Focusing on full-body training and compound movements is generally more effective for runners. Movements that include multiple joints and muscle groups will see your running improve greatly – think lunges, squats, rows and deadlifts.
Tip 4: Wear The Correct Footwear For Running
Understanding what footwear to wear when running is just as important as running with correct posture and running stride, in my opinion.
Wearing the correct footwear when running can protect you against injury, as they can significantly lower the impact of your foot hitting the ground. The correct shoe can also improve your running performance. For example, increase your speed in some cases and provide extra support during quick direction changes.
Before starting your running journey, I recommend you visit your local running shoe store to speak to a specialist. Here, you will be taken through a process called gait analysis which is a great way of determining what shoe will work best for you.
Although running shoes can generally be fairly expensive, the most expensive shoe may not always be the best one for you. Find the correct shoe for you and you’ll be ready to hit the roads and run like the wind!
Tip 5: Build Up Your Running Base and ENJOY The Process! (Staying Consistent)
In all my years as a professional in the fitness industry, the one thing I find people struggle with most is consistency. Staying consistent with your running is the best way to really see results and improve your overall health.
With running, it can be easy to lose focus – especially if you're just starting out. Many people will start strong for a few weeks, then suddenly stop as they lose interest or pick up an injury. In this case, it's even more of a struggle to get back on track through fear of the injury returning.
It is important that you build up your running base to a certain level before you start increasing your speed and distance. Gradually running longer distances at a faster pace over time will allow you to build up your aerobic capacity and strengthen your muscles and joints. This strength will protect you from common running injuries.
Slowly building up your speed and distance will also allow you to measure your progress over time, which is a great way to spur motivation. Start slow, start steady and enjoy the process!
Good luck runners!