What is the right way to run?

RunThis post was imported from the Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone podcast blog.

Linda had a running question for Ms Julia Jones:

I've been reading and watching You Tube videos on running. It seems there is a wrong way to run and a right way. They say once you start running incorrectly it's hard to adjust. What is the right way to run? Do you have any tips or links I can follow up on? 

Forwards! I say. But the wise Julia has a better answer:

I wrote a book in Italian on women's running and I just translated the first section: running style! The english has not yet been corrected but it's still readable 🙂

Running Style – A first approach

One of the most frequent questions asked by beginners is: how should I run? A lot of people compare themselves to elite runners they see on television (no matter what the specialty is, from the 800 metres to the marathon) or to a friend that already runs, without realizing that the way they move is very, very different.

They want someone to watch them run correct any errors that they’re making. They want to know if their feet should be positioned further ahead or if their shoulders are too far back. They think that with a couple of suggestions and simple corrections they’ll be able to run perfectly.

The human body is amazing. It adapts perfectly to whatever environmental conditions it’s give, using whatever available resources it possesses. Even though as human beings we’re very similar to one another, in reality we are all very unique in our physical and mental characteristics. The way we move, even while running, is influenced by our body proportions, any physical activity done during the years, by mental models that each one of us constructs and builds through our own experiences. In running, the way you place your feet, the position of your upper body and your stride length are all regulated by inborn and acquired qualities. What has to be looked at is whether what you think is a incorrect way of running (compared to an ideal model) should be corrected or just left alone.

Have you ever seen the British World Class athlete and marathoner Paula Radcliffe run? Every four steps her head inclines forward as if she’s nodding. The faster she runs the faster she nods. Look out when she has to sprint to the finish! And yet she’s declared that it would cost her more energy to work on modifying this “defect” rather than try and live with it to her best ability. With her “wrong” way of running she holds the world record time for the Women’s marathon distance!

My advice to beginner runners is not to concentrate too much in the first few months on your running style. Initially, it’s more important to build an aerobic base and be able to “move yourself” for many miles without stopping. Once you’ve reached this goal you can read the next chapter and concentrate more on how to improve your running technique and style. For now you can just follow these four tips to achieving a natural running style:

Look straight ahead.
Don’t put your focus on the the ground or on your shoes. Look directly in front of you with your head straight. Enjoy your environment, you can look left and right, or concentrate on a focal point or the general view in front of you.

Keep your shoulders straight and relaxed.
Be careful not to tense up in your shoulders or hunch over while leaning too far forward. It might help stretch before starting your run with your hands high over your head. Another trick is to left and then release your shoulders six or seven times in a row. Sometimes when I feel a lot of tension in my shoulders I’ll slow down my run for a few minutes and do these same exercises while I’m running.

Your elbows should be at a 90° angle.
Your arms should be relaxed and follow the natural rhythm of your legs. Make sure to keep your hands relaxed, with your fingers slightly closed but not in a tight fist.

Mid-foot striking and landing
Not on the tips of your toes, not on your heels. Your feet should cushion your land and roll as you push off, trying not to brakes the movement. Landing with your heels makes you brake sharply and thus puts a lot of traumatic strain on the lumbar region, which is when you hear complaints about back pain.

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