I'm a Runner, and When Friends Ask My Advice on Getting Started, This Is My #1 Tip

click to play video

Since gyms around the country shut their doors and at-home and outdoor workouts became the new normal, I've been fielding even more texts than usual from friends and acquaintances who are taking up running. I'm no expert, but I've run a couple of marathons, an ultramarathon, and most every distance in between. And no matter who asks me for tips and advice as they set out on a running journey, there's always one link I text them in reply. It's this video of Blue Benadum, the head coach of Nike Running in LA, breaking down proper running form.

Benadum is one of the coaches who helped take me from "not really a runner" to 10k finisher to marathoner in 18 months as I trained for the 2018 Chicago Marathon with the Nike Women's Marathon Project. (So, yes, full disclosure: I have run on Nike-supported and outfitted running teams in the past.) He credits better attention to his form — things like how you swing your arms, where on your feet you land, and how far your kick out with your legs — with improving his own speed over time. Studies have shown that good biomechanics (a fancy word for form) can help stave off running injuries and improve your efficiency. In other words, run better, and you'll probably hurt less and go faster.

"One of the best things about running is that there is no perfect run, no body type all runners have. We all get to share in this sport equally," Benadum told me. "But difference in body type doesn't mean more or less attention to detail. Running, like all sports, can be a learned skill. Sure, you can just go out and throw yourself down the road and hope for the best. Or you can learn the 101 on running mechanics and specifically improve little details of the way you move every single time you head out the door."

"Imagine how good you could get after 10, 20, 30 runs of focusing on more than just the fact that 'it hurts' or that 'it's hard,'" Benadum said. "The residual effect isn't only physical, it's psychological. You'll begin to think of running as something you are mastering. You'll even look forward to [the] challenge!"

While no two bodies or runners are alike, Benadum's video tackles some of the common mistakes new runners make. Those include landing on your heels, twisting your torso side to side, or stretching your legs out too far in front of you. I know, I know — that might sound like a lot to think about when you thought running was just about putting one foot in front of the other. But with a little bit of attention over time, it'll start to feel like second nature — just like your new running habit.