How you run may be the difference between being miserable when you run and absolutely loving to run. It may also be the difference between being chronically injured versus healthy, slower versus faster and not reaching your goals versus exceeding your goals. I’d like to share the most common running technique mistakes, why they are harmful and how to fix them.
1. Poor Posture
The most common mistake runners make is poor posture while running. Slumped shoulders, bend at the waist and a head forward position are common. Poor posture restricts your lungs making breathing more difficult which makes running much more difficult.
Fix: When you run, practice a long, straight spine from your hips up to your neck. This usually fixes most poor posture mistakes.
2. Heel strike
Another common mistake runners make is over striding which often leads to heel striking. When you overstride, your foot lands too far in front of your center of mass (hips) which leads to excess braking forces exerted on your body. This increase in impact leads to injuries and slows you down. Shoot for a full foot landing close to underneath your hips.
Fix: Increasing your cadence shortens your stride and often gets rid of heel striking. Ideal cadence for most runners is between 170-180 steps per minute. The goal is to shorten your stride not just run faster.
3. Striding out in front of you
This mistake is similar to over striding. Many runners are taught to reach out in front of them to run faster. When you do this, you are more likely to heel strike creating that braking force which slows you down.
Fix: To run faster, open up your stride BEHIND you. Think of some of the best runners in the world, especially Kenyans who have a huge stride behind them. Doing so increases your stride length which when combined with a high cadence, equals efficiency and speed. A slight lean from your ankles (not bending at the waist) will encourage your stride to open behind you.