Good running technique can improve your speed, endurance and resilience to injury, but it can often be hard to know how to intentionally go about improving it. So how can you structure your week or what tools can you utilised to help keep improving your technique? Here are some tips:
- Run Fast, Fresh, Often: Running fast is the ultimate crucible or pressure cooker for forcing your body into more smooth and efficient movement patterns. But you do need to do it when you’re fresh (to ensure you’re in control and can maximise muscle recruitment) and it does need to be practised often (once every week at least).
- Use Video: The everyday access to video is one of the single most important developments in sporting technology over the last few decades. There’s nothing like seeing the difference between what you thought you were doing compared to what you’re actually doing to inspire you to work on technique! Try setting up a tripod when you’re on a treadmill or have a friend hold a phone in slow-mo while you run past.
- Find a Good Coach/Bio-Mechanist: In every major centre in developed countries there will be someone who specialises in running technique. This may be a sprint coach, a physiotherapist or even a fully fledged university bio-mechanics lab. These profressionals will have thousands of hours of experience of analysing thousands of runners and will be able to not only point out your areas for improvement but give you the correct cues and exercises for you to improve.
- Cadence: If in doubt, think about keeping your cadence (stride rate) high. This solves a whole heap of running technique issues and is something that by far the majority of runners can use. Most running watches now measure cadence, so be sure to take note how this trends over time and how it trends during your runs and workouts.
- Do You Feel Strong? This simple question is great for understanding very quickly if there’s something going on with your technique that is sub-optimal. You’re in the middle of a long run and you’re feeling like the ground is pounding you at every stride, that your posture is slumped and your legs are heavy—chances are this is a good sign you need to inject some energy into stabilising your core, standing tall and increasing your strides.
- Be Intentional: Many runners just plod mile after mile, without any thought to the movements their bodies are making. Instead, I like to use each run as an opportunity to practice my craft, to finish the run as a better runner than when I started. And you can do this by being intentional about running with better technique each run.
For more ideas, check out our Audio Coach resources for technique tips in your headphones. Find out more here.