The four keys to running right

09/08/2016 YMCA Fathers Day Run Stock Image. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

We all crawl before we walk, and walk before we run. What it takes to do these properly and efficiently isn’t something we think about.

Thing is, the best runners in the world don’t just train for speed or endurance. They spend hours perfecting their technique.

Some of our best running experts have put their heads together and come up with the four big tips to help improve your form so you can chase down a PB this Father’s Day.

1. Vertical oscillation

This refers to how much you move up and down as you run. The more you bounce, the more you waste energy that could be used to propel yourself forward. Best way to reduce this upward movement is to imagine running with a ceiling two inches above your head, and lean forward slightly with your body as you run.

2. Cadence

Also known as stride rate, this refers to how many steps you take per minute. The optimal stride rate is 180-200 per minute, with feet touching the ground for the shortest time possible. To count your steps, focus on one foot and note every time it lands – then double the total after a minute.

Focus on your feet landing under your hips, and not striding out in front of your body. Whether your forefoot or heel strike the ground first, it doesn’t matter – you can still have an efficient stride with correct foot placement.

3. Run softly

Hitting the ground hard puts added strain on your joints. Take out the headphones and listen to yourself run. If you’re running loudly, this puts you at greater risk of injury.

To help, imagine your core muscles are holding you up and your feet need to make as little noise as possible. Even spending a few minutes of your training runs focusing on this will help this become second nature.

4. Don’t forget your arms

It’s easy to not think about our arms – but how they’re positioned is incredibly important. Firstly, ensure they remain relaxed by your sides, positioned between the waistline and shoulders. Hold your hands where they’re relaxed, but not flapping around. Picture holding a potato chip between your thumb and forefinger – but you can’t crush it!

Also try to limit side-to-side motion of your arms by not allowing them to cross over your midline. This can lead to lost efficiency through unnecessary rotation of the torso.

At the YMCA, we have plenty of health and fitness professionals who can help with your running technique. Find your local Y here, and pop in for an appointment with our friendly Health Club staff.

Haven’t registered for the YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run yet? Click here!

Thanks to Jak Lynch, Personal Trainer and Running Coach at Carlton Baths, and Matt Holman, Centre Manager at Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre, for providing their expert running advice.

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