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.