Focusing on these 6 elements of running can help you run faster and more efficiently.
Stride Length and Stride Rate
The most common inefficiency in the average runner is over-striding. This is typically visible by a heavy heel strike and a low stride rate. The target stride rate for most age group runners is between 88-90 foot strikes per minute. (how many times one foot hits the ground per minute) By targeting this rate, (or higher) athletes will often shorten their stride to become more efficient and lessen strain on their joints.
Push Don’t Lift
Keep your focus on your push off and drive into the ground rather than lift your knees or heals up. This is wasted energy. The majority of your speed is driven from the push off.
Arms are an essential part of running. They provide balance and often additional power. Keep arms close to the body, elbows bent about 90 degrees, not crossing the center line of the body. Keep movements "quit" and relaxed.
Forward lean or lack thereof can play a major part in efficiency. The best general thought to have while focusing on body position is: "Run Tall." This means run with your head high, looking 15-30 feet in front of you. Run erect with your shoulders back and arms at your side (remember #3). A slight forward lean of about 5-6 degrees is often optimal to assist in proper foot strike and cadence.
Yes, shoes! This is one of the most overlooked yet essential aspects of running well. Many foot shapes, gait types, and stride techniques require different types of shoes. Buy your shoes from a reputable running store that offers gait analysis. This will ensure you select the right shoe for you.