How to Run Properly: 6 Step Guide with Critical Tips

Running is one of the greatest forms of exercise for our physical and mental health. However, being a high impact workout, it’s quite essential that we know how to do it properly.

Running properly doesn’t only improve our performance and gains from the exercise, but it also helps in reducing the chances of injuries while running!

If you want to know how to run properly, you’re in for a treat! In today’s article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know in order to maintain a proper running form throughout the session.

Additionally, we’ll guide you through all the essential tips and tricks to maximize your performance and reduce injuries while training. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

The Importance of Your Running Technique

Couple running

When people think about proper running form, the first thing that comes to mind is improving running efficiency.

However, the benefits of good running form don’t stop there. In this section, we’ll take a quick look at the two major reasons why running form and preparation are critical for all runners:

Improves Performance in Various Aspects

There are plenty of studies out there that link our running technique with the general effectiveness of our exercise. This means that maintaining a good technique while running improves our overall performance.

For example, a sports medicine study about running techniques and performance found that running properly can actually enhance your general running economy.

This is achieved not only by improving your muscular performance but also through other aspects, such as breathing pattern, cadence, and stride length.

Improving your running form can instantly increase your running speed and general endurance. In other words, you’ll be able to instantly add some serious mileage on your daily runs or cut down your best mile time significantly!

Helps in Avoiding Common Running Injuries

The other aspect that has a major influence on how you run is your body’s preparedness. If you’ve been running for a while, you probably know that running injuries are actually quite common, especially among beginners.

Some meta-analysis of several studies found that up to 79% of all athletes, including runners, will have at least one injury throughout a given year.

If we take a look at the most common injuries among runners, we’ll find that some of the most common injuries out there are all considered “overuse injuries”, which happen due to excessive running, such as runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, shin splints, and others.

Based on these studies, the risk of all of these injuries is reduced, simply by maintaining a proper running form.

While injuries are quite inevitable while working out consistently, you can still limit your injuries or keep them to a minimum with proper form.

These findings were confirmed by a lot of studies, such as this 2015 study that found that maintaining a proper running technique can reduce the risk of serious injuries significantly.

How to Run Properly in a Step by Step Guide

Now that you know the importance of running properly for your running performance and avoiding several running injuries, it’s time to know how to do it right to reap all these benefits.

To make things easier for you, we’ll break down this guide into several parts regarding each of the necessary aspects of the running technique. :

1. Learn How to Properly Warm Up

how to run properly: Woman warming up

If running is a building, then warm ups are the foundations of this building. Just like you can’t build without foundations, you should never start your running drills without proper warm ups.

One thing you should know here is that warming up before running doesn’t only involve standing there and doing some stretching. This is known as static stretching and it’s actually not that reliable when it comes to running.

Instead, you need to do some dynamic stretching, and luckily, dynamic stretching is more fun and takes less time, all the while giving even better results.

There are plenty of good warm up drills that are good for runners, as they loosen up the muscles needed for such an exercise. These include:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstring
  • Ankle and calf
  • Hamstrings and hip flexors
  • Abductor and adductor

Ideally, your warm up should take around 10 to 12 minutes before you start running. Yet, you should never ignore it or run without warming up your body.

2. Optimize Your Breathing Technique

Runner resting tired and exhausted

Managing your respiratory rate while running can be quite frustrating, especially if you’re trying to manage your breathing during the run, not to mention that it can be a little distracting.

Most runners tend to take a short breath, which delivers less oxygen to the lungs, causing quicker fatigue and pain.

To avoid this problem, you should consider working your diaphragm in order to draw more oxygen into your lungs, which is known as “abdominal breathing”

Practicing yoga and doing interval cardio workouts helps in improving your breathing techniques. This video also shows you how to breathe from your diaphragm while running

3. Modify Your Running Posture to Lean Forward

Man sprinting

Your posture is one of the most important aspects while running and it makes up anywhere between 40 to 60% of your running form alone, so you should never overlook it.

Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle involves a lot of sitting on desks, which negatively impacts our posture even while standing up. Here’s how to fix up our running form:

Head Posture

For starters, you should always look ahead while running and avoid the habit of gazing around you or looking straight down.

This puts a lot of strain on your neck and may even prevent oxygen from reaching your head, which makes you feel drowsy while running.

Instead, your eyes should always be looking straight ahead and observing the 10 to 15 ft in front of you.

One way to easily keep your head in the right position is to check that your chin is parallel to the ground.

Torse Posture

Leaning forward while running is common among runners. In fact, some studies found that running while leaning forward can improve your speed.

However, beginner runners tend to lean forward with their torso only, so they end up slouching and putting a lot of strain on their shoulder muscles as well as their necks.

Instead, you should always keep your torso in line with your hips. So, you should stand straight up and keep your shoulder relaxed to the back and only bend your torso when your running legs are leaning forward.

While running, you also need to tighten your core as much as possible because it’ll remind you to always maintain a proper torso position in line with your legs, as tightened cores help in stabilizing the pelvis and preventing it from bending independently.

Moreover, tightening your cores allows it to contribute to your shock absorbing mechanism, which helps in distributing the impact of every stride across your body.

Lower Body Posture

As previously mentioned, leaning your body improves your general performance and gives you some forward momentum to increase your speed.

To do that properly, you need to start leaning from your ankles. This helps you keep your whole leg in line with your ankle orientation, including your glutes.

With a tightened core and pushed-back shoulders, you should be running in a forward leaning straight line without putting strain on your spine or neck.

Make sure that you distribute equal weight on both of your hips and raise them high while running to maintain your posture and land with your feet flat on the ground.

4. Adjust Your Shoulder and Arm Swing

Some runners are confused about their shoulders and arms while running and whether they should swing them or keep them static. Ideally, you should be swinging your arms in harmony with your runs in order to maintain your speed.

This is because arm swinging functions as a counterbalance to help in pushing you forward while running.

The ideal way to swing your arms while running is by keeping them bent at a 90 degree angle while maintaining a pushed-back shoulder. Think of it like your shoulder is pulling your corresponding leg forward.

Additionally, you can either keep your hands open or curl up your fist. However, avoid tightening your fist because it ends up draining your energy on needless contractions and can also hurt your fists in the long run.

If compression is important for your performance, you might want to put on a wrist wrap but you should avoid tightening it too hard.

5. Master Your Foot Strike

Runner Stride

Another critical aspect of proper running technique is your foot strike, which as the name suggests, describes the way your feet land on the floor.

Most people will typically land on one of three parts of their feet, which are the heel, midfoot, and forefoot. Ideally, landing on the midfoot is the best way to distribute the pressure on all the feet.

On the other hand, landing on the heel is always unrecommended because it can cause many injuries in the long run, such as runner’s knee. However, we all have a different leg to torso ratio, so we all land differently.

The most important part while striking your feet on the floor is to do it as lightly as possible, which is usually achieved when striking your feet when they’re exactly beneath your center of mass.

Whether you’re jogging or running, your center of mass is always in a perpendicular line with your torso, so you should always land your foot at that spot.

6. Watch Your Cadence

Lastly, you should keep your running cadence in mind, which describes the rate at which you take steps (if you’re jogging) or strides (if you’re running).

Cadence itself isn’t a technique, and it’s measured in steps per minute. However, for a proper running technique, you should balance your cadence in order to minimize injury and keep your speed high.

For a healthy running pace”, you need a cadence rate of about 170 to 190 strides per minute, which is also ideal for minimizing injuries and increasing your performance.

The exact cadence rate is usually down to personal differences depending on the running style, height, and weight of the runner.

Additional Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Running Exercise

To help you increase the efficiency of your running exercise, here are some of the most valuable tips to enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injuries while running:

Pick Your Running Terrain

While doing your running drills, you should always look for a relatively soft and flat surface to run on. This includes running tracks and flat grass. This helps in creating a good running routine.

Hit the Gym

Running recruits several muscles, including your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Remember to strengthen these muscles in order to improve your running endurance.

Alternate with Some Low Impact Workouts

Running is a high impact exercise that puts a lot of pressure on the joints. To help your body recover and avoid fatigue, consider including various exercises in your weekly routine, such as swimming and cycling.

Follow a Post Workout Recovery Routine

Even with the best running form, you still need to give yourself at least 1 to 2 rest days a week and do a recovery routine after every running exercise. Icing your knees and applying foam rollers are among the best methods to prevent post workout fatigue and overuse injuries.

Don’t Overlook the Importance of Your Core While Running

Work out your core muscles by doing exercises like planks for a better torso posture while running.

Consider Hiring a Running Coach to Track Your Running Form

Keeping track of all the details of your running form can be quite overwhelming, especially for a new runner.

To solve that problem, you can hire a running coach to track all these aspects. Coaches can also help you plan your workouts around your schedule and even manage your diet.

Buy a Good Pair of Running Shoes for Your Workout

A running shoe isn’t only necessary for comfort while running, but it can also help in correcting your posture and prevent several injuries, especially if you suffer from flat feet.


Final Thoughts on How to Run Properly

There you have it! A complete guide that shows you how to run properly and make the most out of your runs with proper technique.

As you can see, you don’t need to be an experienced runner in order to maintain a correct running form, as it all comes with practice and consistency.

In addition to keeping a good form while running, make sure that you follow the previously mentioned tips to maximize your performance, stay motivated, and lower the risk of injuries.