There’s no perfect way to run, but there are tweaks you can make to your form, especially on different types of terrain, says Jonathan Cane, president of City Coach Multisport, a coaching service in New York City. Use these tips to make your run faster, smoother, stronger, and more efficient.
If you’re running on: A flat road or path
- Keep your elbows bent at about 90 degrees.
- Focus your gaze several yards ahead of you, with your head neutral and/or chin slightly tucked.
- Relax your shoulders, hands, and jaw, relieving tension in those areas.
- Land gently with feet underneath hips (below your center of gravity).
- Watch your stride rate. Count the number of foot strikes that you take in one minute: 180 is a good goal.
If you’re running on: Hills
When going uphill…
- Lift your knees a little higher than normal.
- Look up—to where you’re going—not down.
- Imagine pulling yourself up a rope: Stand tall, with good posture, and use your arms to drive your stride.
When going downhill…
- Lean into the hill.
- Let gravity work for you; don’t put on the brakes.
- Allow your foot strike to naturally shift to heel-toe while you cruise downhill.
If you’re running on: The treadmill
- Relax your hands: Picture holding a potato chip between your thumb and forefinger in each hand—you want to stay loose enough to not crush it.
- Take advantage of the gym mirrors and check what your form looks like while you run.
- Use the front of the treadmill to gauge whether you’re overstriding. If you’re kicking it, you’re landing too far in front of your center of gravity and should readjust.