How to Improve Your Running Form


This post was written by Max Shippee, our resident runner and researcher of all things sweaty.

“I wanted to get some new shoes so I can start running.”

“New shoes?”

“Yeah. What should I get?”

“How’s your running form?”

“My, uh, form?”

“Yeah, have we looked at that yet?”

“Um…I just usually run, I don’t really think about it.”

“Maybe it’s time we started.”

There’s running, and there’s running.

People realize that there may be something to learning correct running form, but many don’t appreciate it enough. A good running form is both comfortable and efficient. A great analogy is to compare it to swimming. There is a difference between knowing how to swim and being a swimmer. We’re hopefully going to start the process for you to go from running to becoming a runner.

I’ll admit this post is long overdue. Running is something that we all have access to, and in some way, we were all built to do. I’m going to qualify that last statement as some of us are naturally sprinters, while others are built for long distance. If you are going Paleo with an emphasis on low carbs, you’re probably a sprinter. If you can “get away” with more carbs than your super-bacon friends, then you’re probably more of a long distance person.

That all being said, there is definitely a benefit of getting outside, and covering a little distance once a week or so.

First, a Running Coach.

There really is no better way to improve your running than to have a coach actually watch you run. Unless you ran “back in school,” your running form could use a little work.

Before you go making any HUGE changes to your running form, you should know that any changes that you make should be made gradually. If you start to change things, and then decide to go out for a 5 miler, you’re REALLY asking for at least soreness, and injury at worst. These changes should be made a little at a time. If you run a mile, you’re feet hit the ground around 2,000 times! That’s a LOT of reps!

Running on Ball of Foot

Most of us, with good intentions, run on our heels. We strike the ground with our heels, and then come through and push off behind us. While this, years ago, was introduced as a way to increase stride length, nowadays it’s considered excessively impact-ful for your foot, knee and hip.

You’ll want to start by running in place, alternating feet, just like anyone would run in place. You should have a little bounce in your step, and chances are, your heels never actually touch the ground.

You don’t have to be way up on your toes, like a dinosaur or anything, just naturally towards the front of the foot.

Running Lean

Once you’ve got that little bit of bounce going, alternating the feet, just give yourself a little lean forward. You’ll be surprised how little lean it takes to get you moving in a forward direction.

Also, you really shouldn’t consciously have to do anything different with your stride or your feet. They will naturally start to fall into place as long as you don’t try to push it TOO fast in the beginning. Just lean forward a little bit and off you’ll go.

To go faster, just lean forward a little more, to ease off, straighten up. Of course, there are many, many more tweaks that we could make, but just doing these two basic things, running in place, and leaning forward a bit will get you going in the right direction, and running more comfortably.

Keep it relaxed and focus on each step.

Each step is an opportunity to try to make your running more efficient. The next time you run, spend about 400 meters or so working on your form. As you get more comfortable, continue to add a little distance until you can go a mile or so comfortably.

Changing your form can take up to a year to do effectively. It takes a LONG time for your foot and ankle to stretch and strengthen into the new form. Give yourself enough time and have patience, and with time you’ll be faster than ever.

Can’t wait to get your questions on this one!

And yes that’s yours truly in this sweet new video! :)

Stay strong,