3 Ways to Improve Your Running
Spring is finally here! With that comes flocks of people wanting to get outside and go running. 5k, 10k, half marathons and more have people training multiple days a week. But with running, more running does not equal better running. Better form and smarter training equals better running. Here are three quick tips to get your moving safely and efficiently!
Use Gravity To Your Advantage
Proper running form – Take your shoes off and go run around on grass. This is close to proper running form. All the cushion built into shoes has allowed us to get sloppy with our form. The cushion absorbs the impact from the heel striking the ground, when it should not strike the ground to begin with. Do this with no shoes on pavement and you will quickly correct your mistake!
In the picture to the right, the athlete has great form. He is standing tall, hips forward, and leaning. This forward lean allows gravity to pull us forward, and we control the “fall”. He also demonstrates the difference between fast running and slow running is merely controlled by our lean angle. Notice that the body is always “standing tall” and never bending or slouching.
My favorite cue to myself, and athletes I work with, is “hips forward” or “squeeze your butt”. One of the most common mistakes runners make is to bend at the hips, which immediately drains you of power and proper form.
Control Your Steps Per Minute
Most go out for a run and purely think about how fast they are going, also known as their pace (10 minutes per mile, etc). While knowing this is important, an equally important number to track is how many steps per minute you are taking. This number will help you be more efficient and reduce injuries!
If you have never monitored this before, it will be a game changer. Most novice runners run at 150 or lower steps per minute. In order to bring the cadence up, you must take smaller steps, which also reduces heel striking and associated injuries.
Get an app, watch, or metronome to monitor.
Goal is 180 steps per minute, minimum! World class athletes strive for 240+
Two tips for this – think “fast feet!” and “quiet feet”. If you are taking small steps you should not hear “Thud! Thud! Thud!” as you run down the road. Quiet like a ninja is the goal.
Revise your training model
Old model - Go out and run, the longer the better.
New model – Train technique first, intensity second, and volume third.
What does this mean? It means you should practice hitting 180 steps per minute and working on your lean angle ever before you go out and run a few miles. It means your hour run on Saturday morning would be better spent at the high school track doing 400m repeats instead of doing a long-slow-distance run.
As with any endeavor, you must analyze your priority to the task. Is running something you want to do for a relaxing time outside with your spouse on Sunday morning, or are you trying to be competitive in this years half marathon? If you are a casual runner, focus on Steps #1 and #2. If you have specific goals and are trying to PR a race, Step #3 is just as important as #1 and #2. Just like CrossFit, running should be a lifelong habit that does not deteriorate with age. Treat your body right, get some quality shoes, train your form and technique, and enjoy the time spent outdoors!
If you are interested in having your running form analyzed or getting a specific training program built for you, reach out to Coach Rob at email@example.com
About the Author
Rob Olson Owner / Head Coach
Growing up in Simsbury, I started playing ice hockey soon after I started walking. I continued to play up through high school, as well as playing lacrosse and running cross country at Avon Old Farms. In addition, I also played football, raced mountain bikes, skied (then) and snowboard (now). I also enjoy road biking if I have the free time. If it’s athletic, chances are I like it, and have done it. I was first introduced to CrossFit at BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL training) in 2008. I continued to use and benefit from CrossFit training during my time as a US Navy SEAL, with tours to Afghanistan, Africa, and Europe. I am very passionate about CrossFit, and whole heartedly believe everybody can benefit from it. CrossFit will not only get you in better shape, but the effects will translate into your personal and professional life as well, such as learning perseverance, commitment, teamwork, integrity, and community. The pursuit of health and fitness is a lifelong journey, and I have found CrossFit to be the most efficient and streamlined training method. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
CrossFit Level 1 Trainer
CrossFit Aerobic Capacity
Diane Fu Olympic Weightlifting
Special Operations Medic – ATP / EMT / PEPP / ACLS / CPR / AED
My goal is to continually increase my general physical conditioning. I like to be strong while still having an endurance capacity.
Newport Marathon 2015 (3:53)
Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2017 (6:40)
Ironman 140.6 Lake Placid 2017 (14:14)
Bench Press 315lb