What is the Right Running Technique?

by Himja

what is the right running technique?

I have started using your Beginner Running Program 3 and I have a question about my running technique. I've never run before. I read on many running sites that the right way to run is that your heel should touch the ground first and then the ball of your feet, but when I run naturally, it's my ball of my feet that touches the ground first. When I consciously try to run with my heels hitting the ground, I feel pain in my ankle, knees, and calfs. So, is it okay if I continue running with the ball of my feet hitting the ground first?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Himja,

Thank you for your question! I'll break my response down as follows:

1. What's your natural running technique?
2. The right running technique is all in the upper body

What's your natural running technique?

what is the right running technique?
The debate between heel-strikers and forefoot-strikers is a well-trodden path in the running world. Heel striking refers to landing on the back of your foot first, while forefoot striking means landing on the balls of your feet.

The technique that feels most natural to you is "forefoot striking." Interestingly, forefoot striking is very common among experienced runners. Many believe that it helps to reduce the potential for injury, provided your body is well-conditioned for it.

There may be some benefits to heel-striking as well. Some sources say it uses less energy, but puts more strain on the knees. On the flip side, forefoot striking can be quicker and agile but puts more stress on your calf muscles and Achilles tendons.

When it comes to heel-striking vs forefoot-striking I am very much in the camp of "if it ain't broken, don't fix it". I have seen running theory evolve over time and I am not convinced there is one right answer. And it is hard to change this part of your technique.

So, is it okay that you continue running with the ball of your feet hitting the ground first? Absolutely! Our bodies are unique and running style is part personal preference and part anatomy. If landing on the balls of your feet first is what feels best for you, stick with it. It might just be a natural running style for your body.

I also very much believe that you need to listen to your body. When changing your technique, your body was trying to tell you something. Keep listening to your body as you train. Discomfort is your body's way of letting you know something isn’t quite right. So, listen to the signs.

The Right Running Technique is All in the Upper Body

what is the right running technique?
With beginning runners, I prefer to focus on the upper body rather than the lower body, when it comes to the right running technique.

Let's first think about what we do with your head, chest and arms. Then the rest will follow.

Right running technique: head and chest
When I tell you to "run proudly", what image does that conjure up? Is your head drooping and hanging forward or is your head straight? Is your chest out a little bit? Running with your head held high and chest out helps create energy and it allows your breathing to function optimally. So, firstly, focus on running with pride.

Right running technique: arms
Secondly, the way you move your arms is pretty important.

The first mistake some people make is to not move their arms at all or not enough. Your arms actually help you move forward.

what is the right running technique?
The second mistake is that some people move their arms across their body. Run an imaginary line across your body from top of your head to your toes. When you swing your arms, you do not want them to cross that imaginary line. Why not? Because the rest of your body follows your arms. When you swing your arms across your body too much, there is every chance that your hip movement is somewhat sideways as well, rather than straight.

Turning it around, if this is currently an issue for you, just focusing on your arm swing being straighter, will help straighten out your stride. It can do wonders for your running technique.

So, next time you go for a run, just think to yourself run with pride and straight arm swing and you'll be doing a lot of things right.

Hoping this helps and best of luck with Beginners Running Program 3, Himja!
Kind regards,

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