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Running 101

When I watch marathoner Paula Radcliffe run, I feel deep in my bones that I am not a natural born runner. Not that this has kept me from pounding the pavement since when I run on concrete sidewalks I literally feel that in my bones.

Since running seems like it should be natural but doesn't, I work on my form. A lot!

Here are a few basics, from head to toe, to consider next time you are out for a run.

  • Look where you are going – straight ahead – not at your feet. How you hold your head affects your pelvis, and the pelvis and hips are what is ultimately powering you forward so you want proper alignment of the entire spine.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed. A nice deep exhale will help them fall away from your ears.
  • Swing your arms forward and back. Avoid swinging your arms across your body (this I call the "Charlie's Angels run" because I swear Cheryl Ladd ran swinging her arms across her body in every episode of the show). Keep your elbows bent to 90 degrees.

I'm only half way down the body, to see what do with your feet


  • Don't lean forward. Run straight and tall in your torso. This will also make it easier to breathe.
  • Keep your stride short. It is more efficient for distance (endurance) running.
  • Run lightly and don't slap your feet – this is why it is good to run occasionally without headphones so you can listen to your feet. Land between the heel and the mid-foot and push off quickly.

Whenever I read tips, I want to get out and put them to practice. Hopefully this post will get you out on the road too!


Join The Conversation
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 9 years
I know that my form when I first started running was awful... but I think that was a lot in the fact I was self-conscious about it (I'm built tall and curvy, so I stand out anywhere I go, and I was hunching my shoulders and looking down a lot). Now that I'm almost 5 months into running, and I've accomplished a half marathon (end of March), I can tell that my posture has improved, my breathing technique and my stride-length. Thanks for the extra tips, Fit!
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Great tips.
acy acy 9 years
looking straight ahead is one of the most helpful things for me. i've found that if i look at my feet, i run slower miles. if i ever get cramps (which SUCK so bad), i try over-exhaling. deep breaths help! keeping my arms at my sides and pumping my elbows (as suggested in the post) is SO helpful on those hills. one thing i don't agree with is the short stride--i'm a cross country runner (which is where i'm drawing all this experience from, haha) and i've found that the longer my stride, the faster i can go. short strides means my feet hit the ground more often and my muscles need to push more to continue. hills are the only time i let my stride shorten. hope this wasn't too long ;p
behemoth_the_cat behemoth_the_cat 9 years
Right... those are great tips... all I gotta do now is motivate myself to resume jogging now that Spring is finally here (yay!)
mem952 mem952 9 years
great tips - and great vid recommendation from syako. i've just started getting into running - i'm about to take my first steps off the treadmill! my work has a great running club and i'm going to try the nike womens running club here in london. i'm excited!!
tiabia tiabia 9 years
Thanks for the tips!!! I am just a I'm just trying to build up my ability to just BREATHE correctly, LOL. *Thanks for the vid, Syako...I'm going to watch it!!!
julibul julibul 9 years
I have to run with arms crossing my body when I'm jogging very slowly. It just feels really awkward to have them go out straight ahead.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Those are all things I'm learning in running group. I used to run looking at the ground then I would end up on the ground. Ouch! Now if someone would just tell me how to run without losing my pants or shorts that would be great.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I was running through the park the otherday and a male runner passing me said "don't cross your arms over your body". It was kinda helpful, but kinda rude. Okay, question. Twice last week, a group of male runners (different) ran behind my friend and I for a good mile. They could have passed us but instead stayed just a few feet behind us. Does this happen to anyone else? Do boys have to be so obvious when checking us out?!
nancita nancita 9 years
Great tips, and good to know about the short strides. As a very short person, I feel comfortable taking short strides so I'm glad to know it's ok.
jdeprima jdeprima 9 years
I'm heading out for a run in just a moment--I'm a klutz so tend to stare at my feet, even though I know it's bad form. Thanks for the reminder!
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I have flat feet so mine really slap the pavement.
syako syako 9 years
I think this video tutorial is one of the best things I've ever seen for improving my running. Self magazine had Gail Devers critique several "every day" women running. It's great because you get to watch these women run and hear gail (whose won 2 Olympic gold medals) say what they do right and wrong. I think it's the next best thing to having an actual running coach critique your form.
Hoaxerz Hoaxerz 9 years
I'm guilty of tensing my shoulders; I have to continuously remind myself to relax them.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I don't really pay a lot of attention to my form when I run... but I don't have any joint or severe muscle pain, so I'm assuming I'm doing it how my body feels most comfortable.
angelfromlsu angelfromlsu 9 years
Some people say to lean forward...
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
lol...the Charlie's Angels run, so true! I see people running, literally, on their toes. I'm like, uh, no. I see people hanging on while in a sprint. I'm like, uh, no. I see people run at like 8.5 speed on a zero incline. I'm like, uh, no. It's so frustrating!
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
Great tips! I'm always so worried that I sound like a elephant running on the treadmill!
ahaynes ahaynes 9 years
This is helpful. I hate running but I think it's because I'm overworking myself. I'm a Charlie's Angel runner :P
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
hahaha tood I do to! I am trying to get better with it though!
toodledoo toodledoo 9 years
I'm totally a foot-slapper. I make a racket!
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