You may depend on your legs to run, but it counts on the whole body to power your run.
As the nursery rhyme goes, ‘Heads and shoulders, knees and toes..”. Start with perfecting your running technique with these 4 body parts, and work your way through the rest to improve your run.
Your head position is crucial in controlling your body position. Look too far forward and you’ll lean back and slow yourself down; too close and you’ll be slouching and applying a braking force to your stride. It’s ideal to look around 10-15 metres in front.
Keep your arms relaxed and close to your body. (It’s important not to cross your arms over in front of your body.) This helps to keep your chest open so your breathing is easier and reduces over-rotation. Make sure you also keep your hands and shoulders nice and relaxed.
The arm swing in endurance running doesn’t provide drive like in sprinting; instead it provides balance and rhythm. Slightly increasing the elbow bend at the back of the swing helps the elbow to act like a pendulum and makes running more efficient. Aim for 90-110° of elbow bend at the back of the arm swing. Visualise a string attached to the back of your elbow and it being pulled back. Alternatively, imagine squeezing a golf ball in the small of your elbow at the back of the swing.
Knee injuries are one of the most common reasons why triathletes and runners end up on the sidelines. If you’re not strong enough through the gluteal muscles (the buttocks), your knee can track inwards slightly when your foot lands. This can cause a multitude of problems including hip pain, knee pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis and many other common running injuries. To prevent this, work hard on both the crab walk, knee push and quarter-squat exercises
Keeping your foot from lifting too high off the ground increases efficiency by reducing energy expenditure. The smaller the arc to return the foot back to the front, the more efficient your running technique.
Read more on 220 triathlon.