Running Form and Technique

Good Running Form on Hills and Flats


This article reviews basic running form and technique for running flats and hills, both uphill and downhill. This article also includes links to good videos on form and technique.

Why does good running form and technique matter?


Good running form will help minimize the impact of the ground by using our God-given, biomechanically perfect body. The idea is to run over the ground, not on it. Good running form, and a strong healthy body will increase efficiency by reducing wasted energy. You’ll also go faster by making good use of the potential our body-design affords. Please note that while your coach totally believes that our bodies have been designed by God to run, if you’re returning to the sport at age 47 after a long, very long layoff (see couch potato), it will take time to prepare your body for this sport. Use this information and watch the videos, and begin to prepare your body for what it was intended. In the mean time, while you are preparing your body to run smoothly, simply relax and go slower by decreasing stride-length.

Read more: Good Running Form on Hills and Flats

Good Running Form and Technique

In BOISE RunWalk, we believe that the human body is capable of running long and short distances in a very natural and biomechanically sound fashion. We believe the human body was designed by God perfectly for running. The reason humans experience injury when running is that we’ve destroyed the natural balance and strength and core stability of our bodies by sitting at a desk for eight hours on our day job, and becoming couch potatoes when we’re at home.Then, when we decide to take back our life and start running like we did in High School, we go too fast too soon and begin to experience one or more of the top five running injuries. And to make matters worse, makers of shoes build a huge cushioned heal onto their shoes to help cushion our heel-strikes, or they add a bunch of structure into the shoe to stabilize the foot and reduce motion of the foot. Each of these shoe features compensate for us being out of shape and attempting to run like Carl Lewis.

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Good Running Form: Foot Plant

runner-legs1One of the most important phases of running mechanics is the position of your foot when it lands on the ground. When you foot strikes the ground it will land either toes first, ball of the foot first, flat footed or heel first. Many runners make the mistake of reaching out in front of their body and landing heel first. The photo to the right shows a heel strike, a type of foot plant that can cause big troubles. 

That type of foot plant is inefficient and can be the cause of a long list of injuries. When you land on your heel,  your leg is straight and extended in front of your body. The combination of a straight leg and a hard heel landing transfers a lot of impact through your heel and up through your knee to your hip. The excessive stress a heel strike places on your joints can cause pain and injury to your hips, knee, ankle, foot and attitude. Shin splints (pain of the front of your lower legs) are an example of a common running injury that can be caused by heel striking and over striding.

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Stride Length and Turnover - Theory & Practice

While every runner ultimately adopts a form that works best for their unique physiology, there are some tried and true axioms of good form that help make sure we are running efficiently.  As you run, keep the following fundamentals of form in mind: stay relaxed, stay verticle, reduce unnecessary motion, keep feet quiet and focus on stride length and turnover. 

Stay relaxed

If you are clenching your fists or tightening your arms as you move them in cadence with your feet, you are simply working too hard.  Keep your body relaxed, letting your arms hang down near your hips, hands unclenched.  If you are training to run long distances the more energy you save with each stride, the more you’ll have to carry yourself across the finish line.  At various times during your run, let your body relax, starting from your head down to your feet.  Even the unnecessary tightening of facial muscles is wasted energy.  Let your jaw hang loosely (do keep your tongue in your), and relax your facial muscles.  Smile, and try not to drool – you’ll lose fluids!

Read more: Stride Length and Turnover - Theory & Practice


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