Running Form  

While the trend is positive, all is not well in our running space and I would describe it as two steps forward, one step back. Most runners enthusiastically take up running but soon drop out due to injury or sheer fatigue from ill-advised hard training. Running may seem simple but it is actually a skill sport. Think about it and it will make sense. If you want to swim well, you take swimming lessons. If you want to play tennis, you attend coaching sessions. And so forth for all sports if the intention is more than mere fun or a physical workout. So why should it be any different with running?

Our modern lifestyle and conveniences have lead to our bodies carrying stress, tension and, in most probability, excess weight. Unlike in our younger days, running no longer happens naturally and the result is niggling injuries and an overall dissatisfactory running experience. Statistics reveal that annually 65% of runners face some running related injury which most wrongly dismiss as a vocational hazard, a perception reinforced by medical experts who are mostly non runners themselves.

A key factor for injuries, besides improper training, is poor running form. This is harmless if your goals are modest but scratch the surface and every other runner is targeting to do a marathon (or an ultra) and that too in a timeline measured in months! Any training program necessitates running with more intensity, frequency and distance and runners proudly brag about their weekly mileage which wrongly puts the emphasis on quantity instead of quality. But mindless training only makes permanent whatever you happen to be practicing and, if you have poor running form, then it gets reinforced in your muscle memory.

The smarter approach is to learn proper running skills prior to taking up any intensive training so as to build positive “muscle memory” where the right skills are second nature. And then only enroll in a structured training program. This approach will ensure you start your key race with confidence and finish feeling stretched but elated. And never demolished.

What is Proper Running Form
It is when you run in a balanced state with all parts of your body engaged in a unified manner and contributing proportionately. This ensures better energy efficiency so you don’t get tired as easily, the impact on your body parts is lesser for faster recovery and less likelihood of injuries. And you can run longer and faster.

So what is a balanced state? Physical balance happens in six directions namely left to right, up to down and front to back. For example, when you lean forward, your stride should open up behind you provided your posture is correct. Your upper body should share the workload as otherwise your lower body is overworked. And so forth. It is only when your upper body, lower body and mid-section are synchronized that you truly experience fluency in your running. I call it the “flow state”.

To become a good runner you need neither brawn nor youth but fluent movements. Your running should be graceful, even powerful but more as a result of intelligent body engineering rather than straining. Knowing the right running technique empowers you to face any situation that you may confront and you become a more confident runner.


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