How To Improve Long Distance Running Form
Bettering your running form, in general, will help you run better and prevent you from injuring yourself. But, keeping that running form over long distances requires to focus more on your overall health and fitness as well as your running form.
In this article, I will help you better/improve your running form when running long distances such as marathons, 5k runs, 10k runs and half marathons.
Let’s delve in!
Basic running form
Let’s understand the basics of good running form before you learn how to apply them when running.
Firstly: You should land your feet directly underneath your body (use your hips as a reference point). This prevents you from using the heel and the front of your foot when landing.
Secondly: Acknowledge, how much force you are putting onto each foot land and step off. You need to run lightly and spring from each step.
Thirdly: Keep your arms bent in a 90-degree angle or slightly below 90-degrees. This will give you the ability to allow your arms to move smoothly and not restrict your torso movement.
When you run, dont move your arms across your midline (the midline is where your arms move across the center of your body by twisting your arms. Your arms need to be moving forward and not across your body.
Fourthly: Run taller. Imagine a piece of string pulling the top of your head and run higher with your chest out. This will make your posture better as well.
Don’t focus too much on running form itself
Running long distances is a test of both your mental and physical abilities. The focus is not only the running form itself but it’s more about how you can keep up the proper running technique for longer. This is where running endurance comes into play.
If you are only running for 20 minutes, you are going to be conscious of your running form. When you run for longer periods of time you are going to get tired mid-way and start slacking in some areas to preserve energy.
For example, during a marathon, you are running for at least 4 hours in one go, which will inevitably make you feel lethargic and sluggish.
So, you have to switch the tables and focus on your fitness and endurance levels in order to improve your running form over longer distances.
You need to increase your stamina to endure running longer distances. You will get less out of breath and be able to run for longer.
Start by consistently running every week. Not once a week but at least 5 times a week doing it ‘xyz’ amount of minutes long, and then improve it week after week.
Be consistent with your running mileage. Plan each week in advance and make it a goal to achieve a certain mileage. You should make sure you are aiming to exceed your targets and goals to make any significant progress.
Focus on running longer distances
You have to actually run longer and apply the running form techniques… to run longer. You can’t rely on short running sessions to prepare you. Get out and go to your nearest park and see how long you can last!
Make 30 – 45% of your weekly mileage towards your longest run. You have to keep in mind, to retain a good running form, you must be able to demonstrate discipline when you go out to run and make a conscious effort to correct yourself if you’re not applying the proper running form techniques.
Keeping a good head position is also important for improving your form. You will be able to keep alert, be conscious of your surroundings and prevent pain from your neck.
When you run, you need to keep your head level and relaxed. Look 10 feet ahead of you at all times. A good head form is also good to keep your posture in check.
When you run with your head down, you’re not utilizing your body to its fullest potential.
Shoulder and chest positioning
After running for a while, your shoulders will start to ache and you will tuck them into your body. This could also affect how your arms are positioned also.
Keep your shoulders and chest in the correct position by not leaning to forward too much. Keep them relaxed and controlled.
You can have a slight lean, but don’t overdo it.
Remember, run tall and high with your posture in check for maximum effect.
‘Lead with your hips’
Run by letting your hips lead your body. Imagine a piece of string is pulling your hips forward. Leading with your hips means you won’t lean too far.
The landing of your foot is critical to improving your form for long distances.
You need to land with the whole of your foot. Typically, runners tend to land with their heel first. This is not beneficial as it causes you to slow down – It’s kind of similar to a car brake, so land with the whole of your foot to retain the momentum when running.
Participate in running events
Get out there and run the next marathon (or half-marathon) in your hometown! If you haven’t participated in a running event, It is best to experience one first before you learn what things will affect your form.
Ask yourselves some questions during the event:
At what time did you feel tired in the event? Are you hydrated enough? What’s aching after the event?
Use each running event to assess where your current progress is. Did you get a cramp this time? Did you have to rest for a couple of minutes?
Take it slow. You’re not in a race. Run slow and steady during an event, the whole point of the marathon is to overcome your goals and aims. Its a platform to put your preparation and training to the test.
Should you consider running faster?
Good question. Increasing your speed will help you cover more ground more quickly… fact! But, does running faster have a bigger impact on your running form or affect it in any shape or form?
Not necessarily. You can faster with good running form. Its a matter of learning it and practicing for it benefit you in the long run.
To sprint with good form, focus on your arms and run with one arm in front and the other arm slightly bent behind. Don’t lower your arms below your waistline and keep them above your waistline.
To wrap everything up, you should now be able to better your running form with information in the post.
To have a better running form you must train your overall fitness and endurance levels to withstand vast distances.
Make a conscious effort to correct your running form when you fall behind. After a bit of time, you will develop a habit of keeping a good form.
Lastly, enter yourselves into marathons and practice your form to get progress forward!