The theory around how to run well is simple to understand and the tips that go with it to improve your running technique are quite easy to put into practice!
I personally put a big focus on the technical aspect a few years ago and I saw excellent results. First in terms of reducing injuries. Since I started working on the different points of this article, I have not had any injuries. It has now been almost 4 years since I was arrested for more than 5 days (it is also thanks to my method to manage the arrival of pain that I explained here). Knowing how to run well is therefore very effective in avoiding injuries but not only. Better running is also an extremely powerful base for faster running!
Here we go for 10 tips to improve your running technique!
Look about 50m in front of you
Take smaller steps (rate > 170ppm)
Make as little noise as possible on the ground
Try to bounce forward, not upwards
Relax your shoulders
Also relax your hands
Have an arm movement forward, not to the sides
Don't think too much about your footwork
Run, run, run, run, the right thing is created by habit
How to run well is not learned in a day!
Simple to understand and easy to put into practice does not mean that learning to run well is done overnight. Our body is used to the way we run, it has recorded this gesture and repeats it automatically. To run better, it is sometimes necessary to "unlearn" one automation to register another in the brain. This change can take time and can give the impression of running "strangely" at first. This feeling is normal and if the correction you make is good, the result will be felt sooner or later.
1 - Look about 50m in front of you
We naturally move towards the place where our eyes are looking. It is therefore important to avoid looking at your feet at all costs! Our goal is not to move towards the ground but towards the front. In addition, looking only a few meters in front of you tends to put our weight too far forward from the centre of gravity and therefore overuse the quadriceps. On the other hand, it sends the buttocks back and therefore prevents you from using your powerful muscles to their full potential.
Be careful with this advice, of course, you still have to look where you're going. Depending on the nature of the soil, it is sometimes necessary to look directly ahead. But under normal conditions on the road or on a clear path, try to look 50m in front of you, it's ideal.
2 - Grow up
To run well, you have to be straight. And there is an image that I like very much to describe this. Imagine that you are a puppet, that you have a thread hanging in the center of your head. It's this wire that keeps you standing up. Looking 50m in front of you, you should already have a relatively straight head. But by imagining this thread that holds your head, your whole body will have to stand up straight.
The goal is not to lean too far forward. A very slight forward shift is still positive to maintain the dynamics of the movement. And above all, you should avoid leaning backwards, it's like running with the hand brake! Ideally, we want a shoulder line that is very slightly in front of the centre of gravity, as shown in the picture below. And getting there is not just a question of focusing on your position. It is a sum of details that we will see later on so here remember the idea of the thread that holds your head!
3 - Take smaller steps (170ppm minimum)
Most runners have a low running pace and take long strides to compensate. This is what I call the cushioning shoe syndrome. The cushioning of modern running shoes protects us from the hardness of the ground with each stride, which is a good thing. But it also changes the way we run. If we take off our shoes and run, we will naturally tend to take smaller steps and have a higher pace. We then use the elasticity of our muscles, tendons and joints to create a natural cushioning.
In the end we should have a similar way of running with shoes on and running at a pace of at least 170 steps per minute. All the details are in this article, if you want to go deeper into the subject.
4 - Make as little noise as possible
This advice is a direct follow-up to the previous one. You will often hear that you have to try to be "light" when running. I find this way of saying things a little abstract, but in the absolute it is very true. I prefer to say that we should "make as little noise as possible" because it is something that can be applied more easily.
By running to a quiet place, you can listen to your stride and see if you make a noise every time your foot comes into contact with the ground. We can also simply try to feel this because a noisy impact on the ground results in a significant shock wave that we will feel in the leg and even in the back.
Trying to reduce this shock wave will significantly reduce the risk of injury. This is a point that is complicated to improve so don't be discouraged.
5 - Try to bounce forward, not upwards
Feeling like you're bouncing off the ground is important. The elasticity of our body allows us to reuse part of the energy related to the impact on the ground. What is needed is to focus to use as much of this energy as possible to move forward and not upwards. Leaping upwards with each stride is very inefficient, I know what I'm talking about, before I was a real kangaroo.
Trying to keep a relatively low, grazing stride is the most economical stride in endurance. One image I like very much to represent this point is that of a treadmill. The floor represents the strip of carpet on which we run. We want to accompany the ground and feel as if we are scrolling back and forth with our feet as if on a carpet.
6 - Relax your shoulders
The arms have a role as an accompanier of the movement of the race. But rather than thinking about how your arms can help you run faster, make sure they don't slow you down! Many runners have tense and high shoulders (me first). All these tensions are harmful, they will block the upper body and prevent it from fully fulfilling its accompanying role.
Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and low while keeping an angle of about 90 degrees at the elbow.
7 - Relax your hands too
It's more surprising, we rarely talk about hands in running technique. However, running with clenched, clenched fists also causes problems. Running with closed hands will tend to stretch your shoulders and the rest of your upper body. And as we just saw... it's bad for anyone who wants to run! It is not necessary to run with your hands fully open either. Keep your hands relaxed as if you were at rest.
A trick to relax for those who clench their fists? Imagine you're holding an egg. You don't want to let it down, but you don't want to break it either. So you will keep your hands closed, close to your usual gesture but you will have to reduce the pressure you put on it and therefore relax!
8 - Have an arm movement forward
One last point about the arms. Always to prevent them from slowing you down, make sure that when you move your arms, your hand goes forward and not to the side. It is particularly important to prevent hands from passing beyond the centre of your body. A small inward movement is not embarrassing, but if your hands cross the center every time, it will really unbalance your stride. My first coach called it "drumming", and I was a great musician! ???? But with a good focus, don't worry, it can be corrected over time!
9 - Don't think too much about your footwork
Heel attack or medio-foot attack? This is a subject on which there is clearly too much focus. That's why I only mention it at the end. Yes, a very pronounced heel attack is harmful. But there is no clear evidence that with a so-called medio-foot pose, you would be more effective and have less injury.
Moreover, if you work on all the points mentioned above, there is little chance that a pronounced heel attack will still be a reality in a few months. In short, instead of focusing on the footwork itself, which is a huge change, try to improve all the details I mention here and your stride will improve greatly, I promise you!
>> READ: VS midfoot heel attack, what's the difference?
10 - Run, run and run again
This last advice for a good run is simple and does not involve any reflection! He would like to remind you that the body is a beautiful machine. He spends his time trying to improve in whatever activity is offered to him. Thus, the simple fact of running very regularly indicates to the body that running is something important. He will therefore naturally try, unconsciously for us, to do everything to be more efficient to run.
As time goes by, you will have more running experience, and you will be more efficient at running. This concept is also known as the "10,000 Hours Act". It would take 10,000 hours of any activity to be really effective in it. Proof that we will always have something to improve on, I don't know many runners who are close to these 10,000 hours of racing! I've been running for almost 15 years... and I only have to approach the 2,500 hours in total if I count well.
BONUS : Work one thing at a time!
And finally a bonus advice but one that will really help you improve your technique: work on one thing at a time. Our brain is not able to concentrate intensely on several details. So take a point that is your main focus and think only of that point!