Updated: May 9
Perfect Run Form
Oftentimes when I talk to new runners or runners recovering from injury they ask about perfect form. They want to know the best way to run. That's a tough question to answer. Although I do believe that there is a perfect form, that perfect form is developed over years alongside the perfect running body, perfect muscle balance for the speed and distance you want to run. There are very few people that run with perfect form and those that are closest are elite athletes. On top of that there are factors that impact form like fatigue and environment. As you run, your body fatigues and your form regresses.
How We Get There
This isn’t to say that perfect form isn’t worth talking about. It's important to understand that we are all on a journey toward that perfect form for the type of running we wish to do. As you practice and develop your running, you will be taking steps toward this goal.
Another important aspect to remember is that everyone is unique (yup, I went there). It seems cliche to say but it is important. I like to break running form into three basic dimensions (form, shape and strength). It's important to understand that this is how I view basic running form and others may choose to categorize it in different ways. For the purpose of this series, that is how I choose to define it. For each of the three dimensions, everyone has different starting points. We may be heading to the same goal as our friend, but the path will be different because their base form, shape and strength are at different levels than yours. So their journey will be unique to them and yours unique to you.
Body Feedback (Listen to your body)
So if this is an individual journey, how do we teach someone to run? Although the journey is personal, there are techniques and adjustments that you can use to help you figure out what works for you. So if you try one of these techniques, how do you know it works for you? This is a fundamental question for the basis of our program. You know what works for you by listening to your body.
In a simple way, you can tell if something works for you because it hurts or it doesn’t. The louder or stronger it hurts, the more your body is telling you that something isn’t working for it. In my experience, the message starts off quiet, if I continue to run the same, that message continues to get louder until I adjust or have to stop running. Just like any skill, the more you practice listening to your body, the faster you’ll be able recognize these messages. Practice makes perfect.
But listening isn’t enough, once you start to tune into the messages your body is sending, you have to know what to do with them. This brings in the next two fundamental skills, understanding the messages and then making adjustments to your form. These are the basic skills I believe running is based on and my intention for this Run Basics series is to give you insight to start developing these skills.
Topics Covered in the Run Basics Series
The basis of our program is giving you the awareness to listen to your body while making basic adjustments to your stride and form. Some of the things that we’ll cover in the program are:
Run Impacts - Things that impact your run.
Listen to Your Breathing - How to listen and understand what your breath is telling you.
Run by Effort (Not Speed) - Rather than running by speed, try to continue to use the same amount of energy for the run.
Benefits of Running by Effort - What are the benefits to running by effort.
Running Fast and Slow - Why it's important to do both.
Core Stability - How to improve the efficiency of your form.
Developing Great Form - Other adjustments to play around with to improve your running.
Run Form Summary - This will help to remind you of all the things you've learnt and where to go from here.
Listening, understanding and adjusting is a continuous process that guides your journey to better run form. With these skills you will be able to listen to the feedback your body is giving you and start finding what works for you.
The fundamental skills required to guide your journey to better run form are:
Listening to your Body
Understanding the Messages
Adjusting your Form
Before we start to talk about run form and listening to your body, its important to under other factors that impact your running day to day. This helps you set up a healthy mindset.