Natural Running Form Do's and Don'ts

So, you've been running for a little while and you're wondering about natural running form; what is it, what do you do, how do you get it, how do you work on it? Well, there's a lot of things you need to do to put it all together. 

So, you've been running for a little while and you're wondering about natural running form; what is it, what do you do, how do you get it, how do you work on it? Well, there's a lot of things you need to do to put it all together. I'm Jesse Funk, and on today's episode of Runner's High, I'm going to show a progression you can use to learn natural running form.

Before I get to the demo, I want to say that all these tips actually come to me via Barb Lindquist, who is one of the US is former professional triathletes. She raced in the Olympics in 2004 and for 10 years, raced triathlon professionally. She was actually the first US woman to be ranked number one in the world. So, she's a pretty big deal and I had the fortune to spend time with her, know her, go to some of her clinics. So, these tips come to me via Barb Lindquist.

So, if you actually happen to be a triathlete on top of being a runner, check her out,, she's an awesome coach, she can help you be the best you can be as a triathlete, whether you're an age grouper or trying to win a World Championship. Now, I’m going to go on and show you a few of those techniques that she showed me.

The first thing we want to think about is our arm carry. I know you're thinking, Jessie, okay, I'm running like it's all lower body, but it's not. Your running is a whole body system from your toes all the way to the top of your head. So, we want to start figuring out, what are we doing; are we new ?? 1:40>, or what exactly is going on with our arms?

Now, contrary to what you might see with some people is a real big arm swing. Yes, you want to have a pretty compact arm swing, which means you're going to hold them a little bit higher than might be intuitive. Barb likes to say that it's like pulling a string from your ear to chest. Now my arm swing naturally is a little bit lower than that. I have pretty gangly arms are actually a little long for my body so mine are a little bit lower than that. But that's a good idea.

So, it's this kind of idea where you're up here, it's a more compact swing. The idea being that you're expending extra energy if you do this large swing, and you want to be compact in your running, so you're more efficient.

From the side, it’ll actually look like this, here we are, arms are up and we're going to be running like this. We don't want to have this big swing, like I said, we bring it in, it's real compact. That actually also plays into our cadence because our arms are a counterbalance to our legs. And if our arms cannot move very fast, our legs cannot move very fast. Again, it's a whole body system.

The second part, and this may be the most important part of what we're talking about here with natural running form, is that you're going to have a lean while you run. If you watch my video on one trick to improve your cadence, I've already talked about the lean, you’ve seen that. If you haven't watched that video, go check that out. There's a nice trick from Ben Yoakam who I interviewed on the smart off the podcast.

So, the idea here is that we want to use gravity to our advantage. We don't want to let gravity work against us, we want to actually help it propel us forward. So, here we are, we have good posture, up and down, got that nice tight arm carry. And then what we'll do is we'll lean forward and the point where my leg has to catch myself from falling over.

That's the point that you want to hold while you're running. So, it'll look like this, when you try to find it, here. And then that is the point where I want to stay this kind of leaning motion while I'm running.

So, we can do to figure this out is when you start your runs just start it from here. Arm carry up, lean and then away we go. Before we get to the feet, the part you want to get to there's one more thing I need to talk about and that is actually no saggy butts.

Barb talks about this and she refers to it as sitting in the saddle or sometimes mom butt because you'll see a lot of 40 year old women, unfortunately, I don't mean to make fun of you 40 women, this just happens with you a lot. And they'll have this kind of poor posture where their butt will be sticking and they'll kind of run like this. And you're really doing yourself a disservice when you don't work on that whole body posture, that nice straight posture from your toes all the way up.

My particular issue, I like to stick my neck out. So, sometimes you'll see that I really have to work on this good posture here. But saggy butt, that's pretty common as well. That's why we do all those planks in the gym, is it trying to make sure everything is straight all the way up toes to head. Now the part you've been waiting for, here you are looking at my lower body, you have no idea where my face is gone, it’s no longer in frame. But this is why we want to talk about, you know what's going on with our feet. We're just dangling around here, what are they doing? Okay.

So, that foot plant is really, really important. This is something that you see a lot is that when somebody comes and they do a run, they strike out here. And somewhat wrongly, heel striking has been accused of being the problem. And it's somewhat more of a symptom of the issue than the problem itself. Heel striking is not a problem as long as the foot strikes underneath your body, underneath your center of gravity.

So, again, go watch that video, one simple trick on improving your cadence because the trick that Ben Yoakam shares with me on this part of the podcast that I didn’t share with you in that video helps you bring all of that together. But the important part is, when your lead comes up and you come down through running, your touchdown is right below you. Again, I shot videos the other day at the track in let me show you what it looks like when you put it all together.

So, that's the kind of national running form that you're looking for. All of us have our own issues to work on. Like I said, I have issues with my neck trying to stick my head too far out. And that's a problem I deal with, even after having been running for 20 years is a poor posture issue from sitting and also from time trialing on the bike where you sticking your head down, and that kind of perpetuates that cycle for me. One of the things I want to talk to you about I see this all the time because people are running in front of my house often, I'm sure you can hear the traffic here, I'm on a busy street.

Now, this is where people are running - this - running motion, you saw that video of me while I ran forward and all my legs are in line here. One of the things you want to watch out for and hopefully, you can get a friend to video you or somebody to take photos, maybe you can rely on race photos, but video is best, you want to keep everything in line here.

What happens sometimes is during the recovery phase, you'll see people swing out, I'm exaggerating this a little bit. But that swing out is actually going to make you more susceptible to knee problems and knee injuries through running down a lot of other motions. Because the knee isn't really meant to swing out and then take an impact after moving forward through the next cycle of running.

So, those are my tips on natural running for men again, a lot of these tips come from Olympic triathlete Barb Lindquist and consequently, her coach, legendary running coach Bobby McGee. So, credit where credit is due. If you want help on triathlon, check Barb out, If you have any questions for me, let me know down in the comments below. As always, subscribe to the channel. Stay tuned for more episodes of Runner's High.

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