If you've been running since you were a kid and have kept up the habit, chances are you'll be able to run properly without having to stop and think too much.
But if this isn't your case, don't throw in the towel. There are some things you can do to improve your running technique. And running more kilometers isn't one of them. But it's not a two-day process, improving your technique is a process that takes time, so be patient to see the results in your overall time.
But running technique is not only important for improving your time and being faster, it is also beneficial for your training as it helps to avoid injuries by minimising the impact on muscles and joints. As a runner, you have probably at some point suffered from Achilles tendinitis, knee tendinitis, periostitis and many other injuries typical of long-distance runners, and I have to tell you that running with inadequate technique can be the source of many of them.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Are you landing on your heel?
- Are your strides too long?
- Do you land with your foot in front of the center of your body?
If you respond positively to any of them, you can (and should) improve your technique. This change is not going to be easy, because the muscle memory will try to take us to what we are used to. In addition, at the beginning it will require a lot of effort and you will surely suffer a lot of discomfort in the calves, tibia and joints. That is why we must vary the training routine progressively, so as not to overtrain and avoid pain in these muscle groups that we will start working now.
If we talk about race mechanics, we must be clear about our objective: to move as quickly and efficiently as possible. To do this we must use all the energy possible to move forward, and anything we do not do to this end will be a waste of energy, like moving too vertically by jumping or moving our arms too much.
Let's talk about the racing technique. In this picture we can see what the inadequate technique is.
When taking the stride, this runner is landing with the heel and in front of the body. His body is too straight and the stride is too long, stretching the knee completely. When running this way, he will receive the impact on the ankle, knee and hip joints. Landing with the foot in front of the body causes the knee to receive the greatest impact, and by doing so with the knee straight, it will slow down the forward movement.
Natural running technique
Let's move on to the technique that is considered to be the most suitable for long-distance runners. This technique is called "natural running". What is natural running? It's running again like we did when we were kids and ran barefoot.
The first thing is the posture. The back must be straight and we must lean slightly. Almost as if you were going to fall forward, this way we will have inertia for the next stride. The look must always go where we are going, we must never look at the feet.
Let's compare the photo of the runner we saw above with another photo where the running technique is adequate.
It is easy to see the differences. Body slightly displaced forward, the footprint lands below the vertical of the body and with the central area of the foot, instead of with the heel. Knee flexed and shoulders and hips straight. The movement is very clean. Land correctly with one foot and push with the other to advance. The runner in the first picture landed with his leg extended, slowing down the advance.
In short, and to sum up the correct running technique, these are the details you should take into account:
- Keep your foot on the ground as little as possible. Think about running through the embers at the bonfires of San Juan. If you leave your foot in contact with the embers for too long, you will burn. You must be quick in your strides.
- The foot should strike the ground as close as possible to its center and directly below the vertical of the body, which is the center of gravity.
- Lean slightly forward from the ankles, but keep shoulders, hips and ankles in a straight line. That is, do not just move the torso forward, it has to be the whole body.
- Try to keep a high cadence. Ideally, 180 strides per minute.
- Move knees and feet horizontally, without lifting them too much off the ground.
- Elbows must be turned 90 degrees or less.
- It prevents the arms from moving sideways and the elbows from ever going past the torso.
I leave you this essential video. Watch the running technique of Kenyan Moses Mosop.