Improving Your Running Form Could Help You Run Faster

This post is in collaboration with Upright Go. 

I want to run faster.

It’s a goal a lot of us have when we get into running, wanting to beat our personal bests, knocking seconds off our 5K, 10K, Half and full marathon times. Working our butts off to speed up and run that sub 4 hour, BQ or Good For Age times….

But it is hard. For someone like me, who is not a natural runner, it takes a lot of work to run faster. To chip off time from my marathon finish. I’ve already gone from a 4.54 to a 3.49, but I have a long way to go until I run a Boston Qualifier.

To run faster, you have to run faster. Be it speed work, tempo runs, intervals or training for shorter distances in the build up to a marathon.

For me, it’s a combination of little things that add up to big gains in my speed.

  • Consistent training
  • Speed workouts
  • Nutrition
  • Strength work
  • Recovery
  • Running Form

Looking through race photos, I can see that my form is poor, especially during the end of a race. Last year I had a series of sessions at The Running School, looking at my running form and efficiency, to see if I could make some improvements to my style and potentially speed.

I’ve partnered with Upright Go to share some running posture tips. Upright Go is a tech wearable that sits on your upper back and vibrates when you slouch (or the worm, as I call it). There’s a sensor that uses a learning algorithmic model to detect your body’s movements, upper body position, and other postural nuances. It emits a gentle vibration whenever you slouch, helping to train you to sit or stand with correct upright posture. The app tracks your movement whilst you’re wearing it so that you can see any patterns emerging. You can read my first post here – 5 Reasons to Work on your Posture.

Being more aware of your posture on a day-to-day basis can help with your awareness of your running posture too.

One of the key things I focused on was picking up my feet and increase the ‘flick’ of my leg. This process felt unnatural at first, and certainly is all but forgotten about by the end of a marathon, however it definitely speeds up the leg turnover and pushes me forward. Apparently stride rate is actually the most common problem in runner’s form, with the ideal cadence 160-170 for casual runners (180 for elites!). By increasing your steps you literally cover more ground more quickly.

That’s not to say we should be over striding. We should be changing stride rate, not length.

A lot of runners that heel strike (not a bad thing!) tend to overstride, as someone who tends to heel strike when I’m tired, I know I’m guilty of this. As well as increasing turnover, try to place your foot directly underneath your body rather than stretching it out infront of your body.

Another key area I looked at was leaning slightly forwards into my running pose, rather than too upright or backwards. We’re looking for a slightly lean, too much of a forward tilt will put excess stress on your quads. It’s not about hinging forward, more like leaning from the ankles, pushing your hips forward.

As you run, keep your head and chest upright and relax as much as possible; the whole of your upper body should remain stable but not be tense. The Running School taught me to pump my arms, not too high or too fast, without fists clenched, to move forwards. I’m also trying avoid crossing my arms over my body to reduce energy wasting.

As we become stronger runners physically, through drills, core strength, hill sessions etc, our range of motion will improve and naturally our form should improve. Another reason to get into the gym!

How can you improve your form?

  • watch videos of the elites running, and compare it to a video of you running (have a friends film you or set up your phone to film yourself on a treadmill). Use the stop/start and slow motion to analyse your form.
  • Use an app like WeavRun to help increase your cadence (the music increases in pace as you do!)
  • Think about your posture – using the Upright Go during the day will definitely help you think about your head, neck and back position whilst you’re out on your run!
  • Book an appointment with The Running School or Dash (they have 30 min session to teach you running drills/techniques to get faster)

 

3 Comments

  1. Jon
    10th February 2018 / 7:32 pm

    I just recently learned about cadence and my stride has been a bit long. Interesting to see how you can run with higher cadence, shorter stride and get faster for the same effort!

  2. 13th February 2018 / 12:40 pm

    My training right now is all about form. It can be so tedious, and takes forever (plus I’m not allowed to run until it’s sorted), but I can feel the work paying off. I feel stronger and using a metronome on those rare occassions I’m allowed to take a lap of the block makes running feel lighter! It’s all so nerdy and magical!

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