3 Ways to Improve Your Running
By: Coach Ryan Johnson
It’s 4:30 in the afternoon, you just got off work, you walk into the gym and check out the
workout. “OH NO!!! THERE IS RUNNING INVOLVED!!! I hate running, I’m not good at it…I think
I’ll just go home and finish up that last episode of Game of Thrones.” It’s true, running can be
hard, and despite being a fundamental movement for nearly all sports/activities, we rarely get
any formal training on proper form and technique. Here, I want to pass on a few running tips,
that hopefully, over time, can make running a bit more fun and enjoyable!
1. Don’t run like a robot. Ok, tangent time! Have you ever seen the movie Terminator 2?
There is a scene where the villain (the T-1000, a robot) runs after the main character
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uTO31B1R2c). He has an impressively robotic run style,
and manages to keep up with a kid on a dirt bike. My point here is that this is NOT how we
want to run. Before you start or run (or during) take a second to REEEELAAAXXX. Drop your
shoulder, unclench your fists, relax your face muscles, and oddly enough…relax your feet. If I
was to freeze you mid step, the foot that is up in the air, if I smack it, it should “jiggle”. This will
help alleviate some of the tension in the tendons that can lead to things like shin splints. That
being said, the only place you should have mild tension is the core…which is great because we
all have rock-solid cores (thanks Maddie)! This is mainly to keep our torsos from swaying too
much, but also to protect our back. Every step you take put some serious compression on your
back/spine…keeping mild tension in your core will help soften the blow. Whether you’re
running a marathon or sprinting 100m, remember to relax your body!
What do I do with my arms? A good rule of thumb is to have your arms bent at 90 degrees,
making sure not to release that angle on the back swing. During that swinging motion, try to
limit any “side-to- side” motion as this will cause your hips/torso to move side-to- side as well.
When you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense to move side-to- side when the ultimate
goal of running is to move forward. Unsure if you move side-to- side? A great drill is to interlock
your hands and place them on your head, relax your shoulders, then start running. You’ll know
immediately if your hips tend to “twist” as you run. If they do, concentrate on keeping some
slight tension in your core and focus on keeping your hips straight.
2. Foot position. If I told you to take your shoes off, and sprint 50m at top speed (a fantastic
speed drill by the way!)…take a second and think about how your feet would strike the ground.
Would your heels strike the ground first? Probably not. Would you be taking large strides and
reaching your feet way out in front of you? Nah. While it’s not really sustainable to hold this
sprinting form for long distances, there are many aspects of it that you should implement even
on the lightest of jogs such as keeping your feet under your hips when you strike the ground,
and not slamming your foot down heel first. This will not only help with speed, but will keep
you injury free as well.
3. Remain balanced and determined. Unlike most workouts we do at 202strong, which
involve highly variable motions, running in itself is very repetitive. This means two things: be
sure to pay attention to your legs after every “running-heavy” workout (roll out calves and IT
bands), and be sure to keep balance in your body by continuing to attend our classes at
202strong. Good runners never just run, they keep a well-balanced physical regimen to
maintain core stability, coordination, and prevent injuries. And finally, just like any other
exercise, there will be good days…and there will always be bad days, and even really really bad
days. The key is stay determined, listened to your body, observe your form, and just keep