If you focus on three things while training for a 5K, 10K or just running for fun, they should be: running form, running form, and, yes, running form! You’ve heard the expression form over function? Well, when it comes to training and running form best practices, you must build a solid foundation and know that you’re running with awareness of your body.
Running Form Best Practices
A great way to do this is to focus on the Pose Method. With this approach, there are few things to remember:
- Stance: Know the Pose stance.
- Stride: Keep your stride short and quick, at 2.5 to 3 steps/second.
- Breathing: Sync your breathing with your steps.
- Eyes: Keep your eyes on the horizon.
- Arms: Allow your arms to swing naturally.
So what’s this the Pose stance? It’s basically what you want to look like if you took a picture of yourself mid-stride during while running. You’d find that you’re balancing on the ball of one foot, with the opposite knee raised in front of you. You naturally run faster in this stance because gravity pulls you forward. So think about manually pulling your feet off the ground, and falling back down on the ball of your feet. Not only is this most natural for your body, but with this method of running, there’s less of a chance for knee or shin injuries.
When it comes to stride — the rate at which you step — you should ideally find you take about 2.5 to 3 steps per second. During this short, quick stride length, your knee should be in line with your body, and your feet should be in line with your knee. Again, you want to land on the balls or midsole of the foot.
For breathing, you want to breathe into your belly, activating your diaphragm. While many people breathe from the chest, it actually makes a simple task much more difficult. So start by checking to make sure your belly is inflating when you inhale. Then get comfortable with a breathing pattern that syncs up with your running. A great start is the 2:2 ratio: inhale in for two steps, then exhale for two steps.
It’s also key to keep your eyes on the prize…the horizon! Looking up and forward expands your chest, maximizing the amount of air you can breathe in and exhale out. Looking down cramps your chests in, limiting oxygen from entering your lungs when you breathe.
Last, be sure you’re swinging your arms by your sides — relaxing both your elbows and hands. There’s no need to purposefully pump your arms. Simply allow them to swing naturally with your elbows relaxed at 90° or less. Your grip should be easy — as if you’re gently holding a potato chip with your index finger and thumb.
Phew! While it may seem like a lot to think about, running form is the key to mastering that race. So take a bit of time to focus on each of these concepts this week as you run in one of our classes. And, of course, have fun out there!