Running Form: Why Does It Matter?
Time to read 3 min
Time to read 3 min
"…a good runner will also focus on improving their form to become more efficient and using less energy with each stride, to maximise their gains."
First of all, if you are an experienced runner who successfully avoids injury and is happy with your current form, then I would be first to say you probably don’t need to change anything about your running technique.
However, if you want to run more efficiently and in doing so reduce your risk of injury, and as a result probably run further and faster, using less energy, then I would argue it is very important.
Tense muscles waste energy, so focus on relaxing:
Start at the head and work down. While you are running, keep manually checking for any tension and try to reduce it.
Is your head straight and neck relaxed?
Are your shoulders hunched?
Are your hands clenched?
Is your breathing controlled through deep belly breathing using the diaphragm?
Are your wrists and hands relaxed?
Are you keeping a nice light running tempo or slapping the ground hard as you run?
If you do not work at relaxing in training, you will be very tense when running on race day. Many runners spend time pushing hard to get better, but also learning to relax and use less energy with each step is equally as important.
Essentially, a higher running cadence is more efficient than a lower one. An ideal cadence can be considered to be around 170-180 steps per minute.
Research suggests that the elastic recoil (free energy) is most effectively harnessed at around 180 steps per minute or above. That's 3 steps per second. Shorter runners should aim for 180, whilst taller runners should aim to hit over 170.
By increasing your cadence, you decrease the amount of impact during each foot strike you make while running. This translates directly to fewer running injuries, especially knee and hip injuries.
If you are slower it does not mean you are wrong, it just means you may not be running as efficiently as you could.
A common problem we encounter when athletes suddenly try to increase their running cadence is: "When I increase cadence my heart rate skyrockets up!"
And here's the solution: - If you increase cadence you must shorten your stride length to balance the equation.
You must also make your engine bigger, with lots of aerobic training to run faster. You should also look at adding strength and become more powerful.
But a good runner will also focus on improving their form to become more efficient and using less energy with each stride, to maximise their gains.