How to Run Correctly: Running Form Tips and Techniques

woman running with proper form

While nearly anyone can pick up the sport of running with a little practice, learning how to run correctly with consistent good form can take a little time. And, bad running form can lead to a myriad of issues, pain, and injuries that can keep you off your feet.

Maybe you get back from a run with scuffed calves or you wear out the outside of your shoe sole before the rest. Or, you run on your toes and put too much stress on your calves. These are signs your running form can improve–and we’re here to help!

6 Running Form Tips

Before we dive into a specific drill video, here are our top running form tips for cultivating excellent running form:

1. Keep Your Shoulders Down

Don’t hunch your shoulders. Focus on keeping them down–and away from your ears! Pull your shoulders back, like you are imagining squeezing a pen between your shoulder blades–this also helps maintain endurance.

2. Get Your Head Straight

Set your gaze straight ahead of you, looking around 20 to 30 meters out. Don’t look at your feet unless you’re doing a short drill (more about that later in this post).

Looking down can cause tension to build up in your shoulders and neck–and we want a relaxed neck and jaw for proper running form. Furthermore, don’t jut your head forward–your ears should be in line with your shoulders.

3. Relax Those Hands

This comes more naturally for some people rather than others. Personally, I have a tendency to run with my hands clamped up in a fist, so I have to be intentional about relaxing them—it can create tension in your shoulders and back.

4. Go for a Mid-Foot Strike

While every runner has a natural strike, trying to nurture a mid-foot strike is the best way to land. A heel strike and forefoot strike are common–but focus on landing on the middle of your foot regularly.

5. Control Your Knee Lift

If you lift your knees too high during your run, your running will be bouncy and your body will absorb more impact with each stride. Run with a slight bend in your knee to limit your the impact of training on hard surfaces.

There’s a place for high knee action in running drills, but during your run, keep it low and lift your knees forward, not upwards.

6. Lean Forward Slightly

Don’t ever lean back or stay completely upright while running. Lean forward slightly, hinged at the hips.

-Photo Credit: holisticmarathoner

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of simple running form drills that can teach you how to run correctly—and help you stay injury-free so you can enjoy every run.

5-Minute Running Form Fix

Today, let’s follow along with Coach Nate to explore a five-minute running form fix you can incorporate into your workouts today.

When it comes to learning how to run correctly, think of all of the elements like an orchestra. We need to combine running nice and tall, proper hip rotation and extension, strong core strength, and stability.

Often, at the beginning of a run, we have great form. But, as we log the miles and our bodies begin to fatigue, our form can suffer if we aren’t intentional about correcting it.

This five-minute form fix teaches us how to dial in our rotation and increase stability to keep the body from overcompensating in certain areas when we fatigue starts to set in.

Bonus: Are you looking for running drills to help you run faster? Read this article and watch the video included to discover seven drills that can help get you to your next PR faster.

Focus on Your Arms

Naturally, running has an innate focus on the legs since they are doing so much work. However, it’s just as important to have a proper arm swing because it helps balance your form–keeping your shoulders and hips neutral and stable with every stride.

When you get tired during a run, your shoulders tense up and your arm swing starts to go away. Then your upper body begins to overcompensate and twist from side to side.

Once you’re overtwisting, things can go downhill fast. You’ll lose connection with your pelvis, your hips will drop with each step, and you’ll notice you scuff your calves every few strides. I’ve definitely personally noticed how dirty my calves can get at the end of a long run!

The Stable Arm Drill

So, how do we prevent losing proper arm swing when we get tired? Enter the stable arm drill. This exercise focuses in on stability and rotation to protect the hips by taking the arm swing away. Here’s how:

  • Jog lightly in place. Notice how your arms naturally assume a contralateral movement–they move the opposite direction of your legs.
  • This will feel silly, but it helps. Run with your arms out straight (imagine Frankenstein running) for 20 meters or about 15-20 seconds.
  • You’ll notice that your upper body starts to twist because your arms aren’t moving. Now, your goal is to minimize as much twisting as possible.
  • Stabilize your core and make sure you’re running tall. Keep it tight!
  • Repeat this exercise three times.
  • We’re not through with this one yet! Do three more rounds–but this time, put your hands together in front of you. It makes it even more challenging to keep your upper body from twisting, but it’s great practice.

When you go back to letting your arms swing, you’ll immediately notice the purpose it serves. Practice this drill a few times per week to remind yourself how to run correctly when fatigue sets in.

Focus From the Bottom Up

Now that you’ve gained an appreciation for what a good arm swing does for your from, let’s focus from the bottom up to avoid what we call, “tightroping”–when you over-rotate and your legs start to resemble someone walking a narrow tightrope. I’ve even tripped myself a few times at the end of a long run!

All you’ll need is a line to follow on the side of a road–just don’t use a double yellow line!

The White Line Drill

  • Choose a course that has a line on the side to use as a marker for your feet.
  • When you stand naturally, your feet are usually about hip-width apart. When you’re running, your feet should land with a bit of space between them.
  • Use the line to make sure you’re feet are straddling the line with each stride. This helps prevent over-rotation–which causes that “tightroping” stride.
  • Don’t go too wide–you know the stride is too wide if you feel like you’ve just gotten off a horse!
  • Straddle the line for 30-60 seconds. Repeat for three to five rounds.

Incorporate these two simple drills into your running schedule every week to encourage proper form and mobility. Looking for running form tips for beginner runners? Check out this article for the best advice.

Learn the Best Running Techniques

Learning how to run correctly and get stronger on a regular basis is a process, and we’re here to help in that journey. That’s why we’ve released a new mobile app! What are you waiting for? Download our app today to discover workouts and training advice that will bring you to the next level.