Running tips for beginners- Form
Running form is as unique to each person as a fingerprint. There is no perfect form that works for everyone as a runner. That being said there are a few cues that can help improve your running economy, without drastically and unnaturally changing your form, while decreasing your risk for injury.
Light feet- do you feel like you're making all kinds of noise when you're running on the road or on the treadmill? Focus on attempting to land softly. This will help your muscles and bones adapt to absorbing the shock of running (3-4x your body weight!) more safely and effectively.
Quick feet- You may have heard the term cadence before, which means how quickly your feet are moving with each stride. While a long stride is definitely important when talking about speed in developed runners, but when you're first starting out a quicker stride may be more important than a longer one. Research has show that 170-180 steps per minute is considered an “ideal” stride rate for runners. With a faster stride rate and shorter steps, you are more able to land under your center of gravity and spend less impact time on the ground. Both of these are helpful in preventing injury. As you work on this you will be able to improve how fast you can run while also maintaining good form. Use a metronome app to practice. There are also a lot of available playlists that have songs with beats of 180/minute you can practice with!
Foot strike- Contrary to popular belief, heel striking is not necessarily a death sentence in running, and forefoot striking is not the only way to run. Current research has shown that it's not necessarily where you are landing on your foot that is important, but where your foot lands in respect to your body. Heel striking is likely only an issue if your foot is landing far ahead of your hips and center of gravity, almost as if you are pressing the breaks. This can cause ankle, knee, and hip injuries. So the next time you're on a run, pay more attention to where your foot is landing in respect to your body rather than what part of your foot hits the ground and see if that helps take some stress off of your legs!
As always, if making a change doesn't feel good to you and your body then no need to make it! These changes can be very helpful when dealing with a nagging injury or trying to become a faster runner, but if you don't find yourself in pain in the first place there may be no need to make any changes. Play around with it and see what works best with your body!