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The Beginner’s Guide To Perfect Running Form

NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training!

Q: As a new runner, how concerned should I be about my running form—or should I just go out and run?

Whether you are a total beginner or a seasoned marathoner, form is important. For you, it is especially critical to prevent injury as you plan to increase your speed and distance. Rather than try to attain every aspect of good form all at once, each time you go on a run, focus on a different element. For example, one day think about your arms. When you feel like you have that down, concentrate on your legs. With time and practice, you will piece it all together and run with improved form without even thinking about it.

Not sure what good form looks like? “Body Check” (below) is a step-by-step guide. Once you’ve been practicing for a bit, enlist a friend to record you running, so you can see if you’re ticking all of the boxes.

Body Check

Follow this framework to ensure your running form is on point.

Head
Keep your head steady, your eyes focused straight ahead and your jaw loose.

Arms
Relax your shoulders and make soft fists with your hands. With each stride, drive your elbow back while swinging your arms straight through (not across your body).

Core
Keep everything (chest, stomach, pelvis) facing the direction you’re headed to avoid twisting the body.

Legs
Aim to land on your midfoot (not up on your toes or striking with your heel), concentrating on hitting the ground as lightly as possible. Kick your heel straight behind on the backswing and drive your knee up on takeoff.

Have a question for Coach Kigar? Email editorial@womensrunnning.com or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #AsktheCoach.