Form Tips

Form Tip: Look to the Horizon

Like so many things in life, good running posture starts with the head. When the head tilts in any one direction, the body shifts off its optimal support axis which causes you to compensate—and generally become discombobulated. 

The head tilt and gaze are usually connected, so when you run, let your gaze guide you: Look out ahead naturally and scan the horizon (unless you're on a technical switchback in the Pyrenees, Killian Jornet–style). That'll straighten your neck and back into one line. If this doesn't work, try imagining a straight line so the weight of your head is carried down through your feet.

Doing this right can improve oxygen flow and conserve energy.

Unless you're trail running, work on not looking at the ground, not stretching your neck or jutting out your chin like Jay Leno. Poor head posture can lead to fatigue and injury.

For those pre-meds out there, get this: The head has a serious influence on your running because of the vestibular apparatus in the ears and cerebellum directly defining and regulating the body's position in space. If you doubt it, try running while vigorously shaking your head—ha, thought not. This regulation is accomplished through the neck muscles, which provide balance to the head and extend their influence to the rest of the muscular system of the body. 

What is the optimal distance of gaze? 10 meters? 40 yards? What's a meter? Who knows. The thing to keep in mind is keeping your head in a straight line with the weight supported down between the shoulders through the hips to the balls of your feet—like when you carry baskets on your head. (In fact, that's our next mile competition.) 

You will not—or should not—find a machine like this to warn you each time you slouch. Instead, try to internalize it. 

Form Tip: Run Faster—and Stay Alive Longer!—with Quiet Feet

Imagine, like you should fairly regularly, that it's the end of the world and you need above-average survival skills to make it in the every man/woman for him/herself post-apocalypse wilds.

You’ll want to not only run fast, but quietly.

Loud footsteps are often an indicator of braking: Your joints are not flexing enough to carry the impact of each stride into the next one, but instead are redirecting your forward momentum into shockwaves that move up through your body. And you don't want to brake!

Can you hear Kaitlyn’s footsteps? Didn’t think so.

Can you hear Kaitlyn’s footsteps? Didn’t think so.

If you or your running partners can hear your footsteps clearly, you'd probably starve in our scenario—or more likely, you'd be food for something else. 

Particularly on hard surfaces, quieter running means you’re making less contact with the ground—and that is one idea that most experts seem to agree on that increases speed and efficiency, and reduces injury. 

Tips for the hunt:

  • Think foot "lift" instead of foot "strike"

  • Reduce the amount of time that each foot touches the ground

  • Avoid the dreaded forefoot!

  • Increase the bend at your ankles—work on flexing them when your feet hit the ground

  • Push the road backwards without any braking action

  • Remember you are sneaking up on your victim!

  • Aim for continuous motion: imagine you're a wheel

Want more great form advice? Check out NBR’s form run in Prospect Park every Wednesday night!