Have you ever hurt your knee or foot when challenging a long run with a strong desire of completing the course, saying “I can do it!”? In fact, this is a typical mistake for beginners… In order to prevent runners from giving up just in a few days, we have asked Mr. Iketani, the coach of Shiseido Running Club, about the basics of a proper running form.
Well Prepared! Work Out and Get Enough Muscles to Run
“The most common injury at an early stage is hurting a knee or foot. It is not a good idea for beginners to suddenly run fast or long distances when they have not got enough muscles for running. That could result in injuries instead. If your knee or foot hurts, get a rest. Especially for beginners, I would recommend that they avoid overstretching and start with walking to train the body.”
That said, it is difficult to apportion the right running pace. Are there any ways to keep the right pace from the start?
Mr. Iketani says, “if you are planning to run for 30 minutes, walk for the first 20 and run for the remaining 10. By repeating this over and over, you will gradually build enough muscles for running, which is the key to running a long distance”.
“Once you have enough muscles, you can feel that you are running with less effort. Everyone experiences this kind of moment. And when it comes, it is about time to start extending running time bit by bit!”
Four Key Points of Basic Running Form: “Eye level”, “Chest”, “Hamstring” and “Footwork”!
“While you are running, you should be aware of the proper form rather than distance. It is okay to run at a slow pace but try to maintain the right form. Look straight ahead and keep your chest slightly out, try not to move your body sideways. This is the basics of the proper running form. Footwork is also important: push off the ground rather than just lifting the feet. And while doing that, try to be aware of the muscles at the back of your thighs (hamstrings), as using them makes you less tired. At an earlier stage, just paying attention to those muscles can be already effective”. (Comment by Mr. Iketani)
Key Points of Proper Running Form
1) Look straight ahead.
2) Keep the chest (diaphragm) out.
3) Be conscious of the hips and hamstrings.
4) Move your feet as if pushing off the ground.
“On the other hand, if you notice you are looking downward, that means you are overstretching. Get a rest for a while. When you look downward, your shoulders get stooped, and your body gets ill-balanced resulting in a possible injury. Also, when you get tired, your feet tend to be “flat”, i.e. the entire sole of the foot touches the ground. “Flat feet” increase the impact of your body weight on your feet almost thrice, hence a significant impact on the knees fraught with injury.” (Comment by Mr. Iketani)
Watch Out for This Kind of Form!
1) Looking downward.
2) Shoulders stooped.
3) Hip level lowered.
4) “Flat feet” with sluggish footwork.
Don’t Forget About “Arm Swing”!
Speaking of running, we more likely focus on footwork, but in fact “arm swing” is also very important for the proper running form. The arm swing apparently has three major roles.
“By fully swinging your arms, you can keep your body stable and well-balanced and create a good rhythm and tempo. Moreover, it can also improve the movements of your back and hips (pelvis). To save your energy as much as possible and run efficiently, it is important to link the movements of your arms, back and pelvis, so remember to swing your arms with your elbows at right angles, and swing properly like a pendulum.” (Comment by Mr. Iketani)
Consider arm swing as a “footwork accelerator” through the movements of pelvis. The rhythm of your arm swing determines the tempo of footwork, so move your arms at the speed that your physical condition allows.
If you notice your elbows are down or swing sideways, that means your body is tired. Have some rest and check your running form!
If you are not sure about your running form, or are used to a particular form, try to have an image of the proper running form for a starter!
“It is quite hard to change your running form immediately so have the right image of running form in your head. If you force yourself to change your form, it might do more bad than good. “Awareness” and “visualizing the ideal form” will do! The current running form of yours and the image of the proper form will soon be matched, and you will shift to the proper one gradually, so just keep the right image in your head and go for a run!” (Comment by Mr. Iketani)
Born in Tottori in 1990. Graduated from National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Kanoya. Participated in the Japan Championship in Athletics. Joined Shiseido in 2016 as a running coach of Shiseido Running Club. Career Records: 3:47.47 minutes for 1500m and 14:17.98 minutes for 5000m. Hobbies: fishing, playing drums and making eraser stamps.
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