Anyone can head out the door and go for a run, but having the proper form can make your workouts more beneficial. Proper form can help reduce fatigue and make your running stride more efficient. When running is part of your WOD, it can make or break your time or reps. With so many unique resources and opinions available, however, it can be difficult to figure out which approach is best. You’ve already strengthened essential core and leg muscles with your CrossFit workouts– now it’s time to focus on improving your running form with the following tips.
- Posture — Whether you’re walking or running, your form will suffer without proper posture. The goal is to run tall by standing as upright as possible. It might help to imagine that someone is pulling you up by your hair. Stand up straight without restricting the body’s natural movement by leaning forward slightly at the hips to keep your body moving forward. Running tall takes practice and will probably feel unnatural at first — you’ll want to periodically check during your run to make sure you’re maintaining a tall posture.
- Shorter stride — Many runners purposefully run with a longer stride in hopes that it will make them faster. However, this often leads to overstriding and improper running form. The best way to shorten your stride as naturally as possible is to keep the stride short and light, with your knees above your feet. If you want to run faster, focus on moving the legs back from the hip rather than extending the feet forward.
- Relax — Running relaxed means loosening up your body, from the shoulders to the hands and down to your legs. Too much tension could restrict your shoulder and arm movement, not the mention your stride. One of the easiest and most effective ways to stay relaxed is to focus on your hands and wrists by relaxing your hands (imagine that you’re holding a fragile egg in each hand). If your shoulders and neck start to get tired, check your form. You may find it helpful to drop your arms to your sides and shake out your hands to relieve tension.
- Arm movement – It’s not uncommon to see runners moving their arms side to side. However, too much arm movement can actually slow you down and disrupt your stride. A good rule of thumb is to hold your arms at a 90 degree angle. However, you might feel best raising or lowering your arms a little bit more than 90 degrees. Keep arm movement natural by moving forward and back rather than side to side.