Improving running form and running efficiency is very important for any runner. It doesn’t matter if you are a recreational runner who enjoys getting away from the house for an hour or if you are an avid 5k, 10k or marathon runner looking to put in some serious training. Whether you are a recreational runner or a weekend warrior, you can improve your running form so you can be a faster and more efficient runner.
Nobody enjoys running their butts off if they know they are not reaching their racing or running potential due to running form issues. A runner wants to feel confident knowing that everything they do in their training is increasing their running potential and helping them become the best runner they can be.
How common is poor running form?
When talking about running form this might sound off topic at first and it’s not, but have you ever seen someone jogging while wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants that are completely drenched? No seriousy, I’m talking drenched to a point where they look like they literally went completely underwater in a swimming pool and then decided it was a good idea to go for a run. Can you picture what they look like? All that heavy cotton material just swinging and bouncing all over the place.
Now that you got the image in your head, have you seen them? I know I have. I see them every day, except they are not actually wearing drenched cotton sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Yup, you guessed it. I’m actually talking about their scary looking running form.
How to improve your running form with increased flexibility and range of motion
If you want to improve your running form you might need to increase your range of motion, and increasing your flexibility so that you can improve your range of motion is a great place to start. When it comes to improving your running form, you can increase your flexibility through static and dynamic stretches, as well as hurdle mobility exercises. The static and dynamic stretches are the least technical and easiest ways that can help a runner increase their range of motion for optimal running and racing.
If you are planning on using static stretching, do so after your workout and hold each stretch for as long as thirty seconds up to three minutes. These stretches work best after a workout because your muscles are going to be very warm and easiest to stretch now that you have used them. Also, there is research and evidence that static stretching cold muscles or even stretching before a race or a training run can diminish running performance and that dynamic stretches are the preferred method pre-workout/race.
If you plan on using dynamic stretching routines, be sure to do these before your workout and use proper form and make sure you are in control of your movements.
Developing coordination to improve running form and efficiency
Coordination and having a sense of movement are great for improving running form and efficiency. Hurdle mobility (hip mobility), Olympic lifts, and running form drills all help develop the coordination and kinesthetic awareness (sense of movement) necessary for efficient running mechanics. How is this possible? When an athlete repeats a series of movements and with accurate precision, they teach the body (the body learns through movement) the correct positions it needs to be in in order to be efficient.
Remember, it is very important to execute the hurdle mobility exercises, Olympic lifts, and running form drills as accurately as possible with text-book looking form because if they are performed in a sloppy manner then the byproduct equates to sloppy looking running form and poor race performances.
How to improve your running form and efficiency with hurdle mobility
Hurdle mobility is great for improving overall strength and range of motion within the hip area. It also challenges an athlete to maintain a high level of balance, special awareness, and coordination. When an athlete adds hurdle mobility to their training, not only will they be actively improving balance, coordination, and improved range of motion within the hip area, but they will also be improving core stability if done correctly.
As the athlete goes either over or under a hurdle, they should try to maintain as much control of their movements in order to execute the hurdle mobility drills as accurately as possible. Doing so will develop a great sense of coordination. If you plan on doing hurdle mobility exercises, walk over the tops of 7-8 hurdles at their lowest setting and again, use proper form and make sure you are in control of your movements.
How to improve your running form and efficiency with Olympic Lifts
The Olympic lifts are very technical, but are a great way to improve coordination, which in turn improves your running ability. The Olympic lifts are also like an added bonus because not only do they help improve coordination, but they also improve neural adaptations and increase strength without the scary increase in muscle size like you see in body builders. Not to forget, the Olympic lifts are one of the best ways to train your core. If you plan on implementing Olympic lifts into you training, be sure to use proper technique.
How to improve your running mechanics and efficiency with running form drills
The last recommendation for improved running form and efficiency would be through running form drills (as mentioned in developing coordination). Running drills are great because if done right, they can teach the body’s joints to be in the right place at the right time. When an athlete repeats a series of movements accurately in a running form drill, their body is not only learning what positions the joint angles are in, but how much tension there is, what kind of contractions the muscles are making, and when to make them. So when the body’s mechanics are in the correct positions, they allow for the improved running mechanics to apply force to the track with very little energy waste.