Running form is crucial, whether you are young or old. It helps you maintain your speed. It keeps you from wasting your energy and helps running for extended periods of time. However, there are some things you might be doing that may be keeping you from your optimal performance and may even cause injury in the long run. Let’s examine a few things that are bad form and how to correct that.
Landing too Hard
Whether you are 7 feet or 4 feet tall, some people land way too hard. It sounds like they are pounding the ground as their feet hit the ground. This unnecessarily increases the load your muscles have to bear for each step. Instead, focus on landing softly and rolling with your stride. There is no need to be overzealous and cause injury to yourself.
It is a common misconception that a long stride is best for running. While this might seem like a good idea, in reality it can work against you. Practice landing in your center of gravity or a bit ahead of it. This allows you to take your longest stride without overstepping and wasting too much energy or overexerting yourself.
Buttkicks are one of those things you might not notice you are doing. If you buttkick while running, it can look a lot like a cheerleader at a pep rally. Your feet are brought back way too far and sometimes you actually hit your butt. At the end of the day this is too much energy being spent on running. Buttkicks are better done as an exercise in place rather than incorporating it into your form. Try to decrease the amount of time your feet are spending in the air as they go back. This will decrease your energy expenditure and help you running for longer periods of time.
Dragging your feet is quite common once you have spent a lot of your energy and you may have lost most of your willpower to keep going at this point. Shuffling can actually expend your precious energy even faster since your feet are dragging on the ground and that friction means more energy required to pull your feet through each stride. It is also easy to trip over your own feet if you are shuffling. Remain focused and maintain your form. While practicing, focus on some high knees to help with form and to strengthen those areas.
As runners we all have a rhythm we keep while exercising. It is important to maintain a consistent cadence. Sometimes we listen to music while running. This can be helpful however if the beat of the song keeps changing it can greatly affect your cadence. Instead choose songs that keep similar beats and this will help your body not lose its rhythm.
In short, think light, land near your center of gravity, maintain your form even if you are tired, minimize the air time of your back kick, and if you listen to music keep a steady beat! With these things in mind you will be able to avoid serious injury, and increase your performance.