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One of the great things about running is that it's easy to get started and easy to get better. However there are some technique issues that you need to be aware of and these can seriously impact on your progress and performance over time. We have a look at how your head position, where your arms are during your stride and much more and how this can impact your running.

There are lots of different running styles and you'll see plenty of them on your next run. While it's easy to adopt your own style, which you'll feel is the right one and the most natural for you, there are important do's and don'ts that you need to incorporate. What feels right, isn't necessarily right.

Heel to toe foot movement

You should never bring your feet flat down., but instead hit the ground with your heel first and then your toes. This will allow you to 'spring' into the next stride. You should almost bounce from one step to the next, which is easier said than done the further you get into your run, but that should be your aspiration!

Head still and looking ahead

As you run you should be looking ahead and keeping your head still. Resist the temptation to look down at the floor for extended periods. Obviously you'll need to check where you're going periodically, but don't do it all the time.

Regular deep breathing

Many runners pay little, or no attention, to their breathing and run poorly as a result, especially in the latter stages of a run. It is really important not to keep exhaling, but breathe in deeply on a regular basis. Every 100 metres or so you should drop your arms and breathe in deeply through the nose. Then exhale slowly through the mouth. This should take twice as long as the breath in. Then bring your arms back to their normal position. Relaxing your arms helps to open up your heart and lungs , improving their functionality and improving oxygen flow.

This is the best way to avoid the dreaded stitch or to sort it out if you do get one. It's often assumed that a stitch strikes as a result of eating too close to a run, and that is often the case, but not always. It also regularly hits runners who are not breathing correctly.

Focus on your arms!

It is common for runners to have their arms in the wrong position. Across the body is not good, but by your side is good. Ideally they should be by your sides, bent at the elbow and lightly brushing your waist as you run. They should not be drawn across your chest and they should not be too high. These are three primary reasons for this:

Firstly, the higher your arms the more pain you are likely to get in your shoulders. Shoulder and upper back pain is common in runners of all levels and in the majority of cases it's because of poor technique. Keep your arms low and you'll ease the pressure on your shoulders. If your arms are high you're in effect 'holding them up' and using up valuable energy.

Second, by keeping your arms away from your chest the more you will open up your heart and lungs and the more efficiently they will function. by bringing your arms across your body the more you restrict your cardiovascular system, making it more difficult for it to work efficiently.

Thirdly, by allowing free movement of your arms by your sides they can operate more effectively, driving you forwards. If they have maximum movement you can use your arms to their full potential. This is especially important up hills, where the more you can use your arms to propel you, the more effective and economical your running performance.

Keep upright

Never run in a bolt upright position, but at the same time make sure you don't slouch! As your run progresses, particularly a long run, you will notice that you almost start to lean forwards. you must avoid this and keep your posture intact. Don't run 100% upright, aim instead for about 90%. By looking ahead and keeping your head still this is the position that you should naturally adopt.

Keep your hands free

Avoid the temptation to carry a phone, water bottle, gels, or anything else in your hands. You can wear an accessory belt that can hold anything you think you'll need on your run and this will avoid the need to carry anything in your hands. Running with a heavy water bottle is a common reason for poor running technique. More stress gets put on the shoulder concerned and this can easily lead to significant pain as a result. More often than not it will lead to an uneven running style with one arm typically higher than the other. This can lead to inefficiencies in your cardiovascular system and resultant poor breathing technique.

A solution

A 10 second 'technique check' every ten minutes or so can help you keep tabs on every component of your technique. If something is wrong you can put it right then and there. This could play a significant role in helping improve performance and help reduce injuries.

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