Good Running Technique

Which foot strikes the ground first is not the determining factor in an efficient stride. What matters is the relationship between the hip motion and the foot strike.



A good number of my runners have wasted time because they strike their foot directly in front of their hips, which often generates braking and momentum killing forces that significantly reduces their stride. However, training to transfer their strike point from in front of their hips, to beneath it, has resulted in significant improvements to their running times.

To help athletes develop a good running technique, I need to be more involved than shouting at them the things that they have to do, like driving their elbows and running tall. Despite the involvement, some outsiders will think that I am nothing but a coach who keeps shouting at his athletes. To fully grasp the principle of driving ones elbows and running tall, let us compare the running technique used by untrained runners and those who trained well.

The Untrained Runner: Their Technique and Flaws

Before new runners are trained to become elite runners, they are hardly aware of the techniques and strategies needed in order to achieve an efficient running stance. They often begin with the conventional stride averaging to only 76-84 strides in a minute.

Moreover, they also wear thick-heeled running shoes because these kind shoes are said to provide more cushioning and last longer. However, what they do not know that the comfort these shoes provide make them an over strider because their foot goes beyond the hip and lands squarely on the heel.

When they heard about the Stride Rate Phenomenon, which stipulates that by taking more steps they also increase their speed, they try to copy the strides of elite runners by consciously experimenting on their strides, swinging it forward and backward.

This is where the mistakes begin. The untrained runner instinctively uses his or her legs as shock absorbers. They scoot their legs and sit down on their pelvis hoping to imitate that smooth stride made by elite runners. Instead of improving their stride, they end up dragging their foot as if they are getting ready for speed walking instead of running. This is pretty familiar – in fact, you are probably guilty of this as well.

Increasing your stride rate is a step in the right direction. The corrections to the above-mentioned errors are targeted at retaining your standardized neuromuscular firing patterns and the majority of the runners stop here, especially after discovering their brand new and enhanced running style.

Increasing your stride rate does reduce your stride length, which then results in your foot striking closer beneath your hip. Unfortunately, if they do not pair this improvement with ballistic strength, appropriate running form, a full grasp of running biomechanics, and the proper application, they will never be able to improve themselves beyond than what they have at the moment.

The Elite Runner: Proper Style and Attaining It

The characteristics of an elite runner are the following: they put more power in each time their foot hits the ground, and they also shift to a more laid-back phase in between strikes – faster than regular runners.

The reason why most elite runners give out the appearance of being in a fluid and graceful strike is their ability to allocate more hang time while they move forward, because they are able to produce more power in each strike, in comparison to an untrained runner.

Have you ever wondered why elite runners have beautiful still shots as if their gracefully fleeting through the air with their feet above ground and while most of us have horrible still shots with us caught in mid flight, flat-footed before a heel-strike?

The elite runners have the capacity to run longer distances in between foot strikes. Contrary to an old claim, what this implies is the fact that these runners do have adequate length in every stride. The majority of the runners try to copy their heroes by extending their stride as much as possible, which often result in their foot striking way in front of their hips, which is an over-strider’s trademark.

The distinction lies on how an elite runner covers more ground, which is by flying through air after a quick and power transition in each strike beneath the hip.

This may appear like they have super powers but they do not.

Ballistic supremacy is the fitting explanation on why elite runners can do this. This supremacy refers to the ability of their well developed muscles to contract more and on a regular basis for longer periods before it starts to fatigue. This will then result in a better propulsion in the air in every strike, allowing them to go the distance before they land and get propelled again.

Paired with more strides, it will lead to better running form and blinding speed that elite runners exhibit. Another difference is the amount of time each foot spends on the ground. The longer the foot is in contact with the track, the more kinetic energy is wasted thus leading to deceleration and reduced speed.

Here are what elite runners are capable of:

1. Reducing foot and ground contact time; and
2. The ability of the runner to propel himself or herself forward using the reduced time of foot and ground contact, which often results in reduced speed in untrained runners


Each of us, the everyday runner, has dreams of being able to run faster, more efficiently, and more gracefully like the elite runners.

Concluding that by increasing your stride you will be able to run faster is the over-simplified version of the sophisticated and intricate processes of neurological re-wiring, proper muscular reinforcement and cultured sensitivity to precise proprioception, which is the ability of being able to tell the position of each body/limb while in motion.

We have to analyze the situation, dissect the problem, and then take small steps towards correcting it.

Let me reiterate that driving your elbows and shortening your strides in order to gain speed is one of the basic steps that you can take to correct this mistake. This is very helpful to runners classified as over-striders because this will help them land their foot beneath their hip rather than way in front.

Using plyometrics and hill repetition will help us improve our ballistic capability that will allow us to generate more propulsion while in the air. For a more emphasized knee lift after swing through in each stride, running tall is recommended. This will provide the much needed leverage for a more powerful strike onto the ground. Performing the right drills will condition our minds to follow it all throughout.

There is no question of the need to pair an impact heavy style of running with proper strengthening training. This kind of training will condition the body by stabilizing the joints and strengthening the muscles in order to give them the capacity to withstand high intensity runs. Muscle groups located on the knee and hips have to be well developed in order to provide hip stability while the arms and legs are moving alternately.

Lastly, core exercises will help tone and strengthen the core or the midsection that will enable the runner to run tall for longer periods while holding a flawless posture during the run. Keeping your torso in a rotational torsion will help turn your trunk into a spring like mechanism that will help utilize the energy that comes back after every foot strike.

Why not share your running thoughts below…



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