Bill Bowerman, in his coaching days at the University of Oregon,
has been quoted as saying "Run Tall". This sums up
the style of many of the recent and current greats in long distance
running. You should run standing up fairly straight, not leaning
forward, twisted to one side, or tilting backwards. You should
be looking ahead at where you are going, not staring at your
feet or the ground. Of course on a trail run, you might be checking
out the ground and what is coming up next, if you value your
to run on the ball of your foot, others say contact the
ground with the heel. We take a middle of the road approach.”
Foot First: Where should you contact
Some say to run on the ball of your foot, others say contact
the ground with the heel. We take a middle of the road approach.
Studies have shown that good long distance runners usually contact
with the midfoot. Slower runners contact between the midfoot
and the heel, faster runners a bit further forward. We feel that
only sprinters or short to middle distance runners should contact
the ground with their forefoot or the ball of the foot. While
there may be exceptions to the rule, this is a good way for most
beginning and intermediate runners to start out. It allows for
better shock absorption, less stress on the calf muscle and Achilles
tendon, and better rolling forward onto the next stride. Your
muscles then end up being used in a similar manner to how you
walk, and this is the pattern of muscle firing and contact pattern
they are accustomed to.
Hips & Head
This part is hard to think about: Where are your hips when your
foot hits the ground. Some people have suggested that your foot
should be under the center of gravity of your body when it strikes
the ground. A line from your head through your hips should end
up at your foot. Keep the head fairly straight and look ahead.
Turns to the side should be done carefully and usually mostly
from the neck up to avoid twisting your body and making you unstable
in your forward progression.
This is what you use when you haven't yet obtained a jogging
baby stroller. Actually, it is where you allow your arms to swing.
First, and most importantly, don't tense up and carry them stiffly
with your hands balled up into a fist and your elbows completely
bent. Relax. Carry your arms at your side somewhere between your
waist and your chest. Make sure they are not too high or too
low. One arm swings forward while the other one goes backwards.
This occurs opposite to the foot and leg motion. Sprinters on
the track move their arms in a straight forward-backward motion.
Most longer distance runners use a slight arc as they swing their
arms, but the better ones don't waste motion by moving too much
from side-to-side. In other words, they don't swing their arms
excessively in front of their body.
The knees do not have to come up very high for long distance
runners. Only sprinters or those of us chugging up a hill have
to left our legs high.
One of the biggest problems of form in long distance running
is overstriding. Make sure that you don't do this, it can lead
to a host of problems including Achilles tendonitis, ITB pain,
and iliopsoas muscle pain.
While some like to tell you how to count your breathing in seconds
both in and out, we will just tell you to
keep breathing, deep
and regular. In most cases your breathing will take care of
itself, as you run faster, you'll breathe faster. And yes, most
are mouth breathers or at least nose and mouth breathers. It
would be impossible to take in adequate oxygen just breathing
through your nose.
Uphills and Downhills
Slow up a bit on the uphills. In general it is a bad idea to
try going faster. Move your arms a bit more to help you imagine
that you are cranking your way or pulling yourself up hill. Shorten
your stride and chug on up. You can think of the little train
that could and repeat "I think I can" on the way up
a big hill.
On the downhill, be careful. Go slow. The biggest risk, is to
your knees. Your quadriceps do the bulk of the braking and be
overworked without you being aware of it. If you are racing,
then you may lean forward a bit and fly down the hill in a short
race, but certainly be more careful in training. In fact many
runners who use hills as part of their training will walk down
the hill while recovering to run up the hill once more. This
is a good way to rest and recover while avoiding the excessive
knee stress that downhill running can cause.