How good are you at running? Do you know good running technique when you see it? If you can’t answer either of those questions, you are not getting the most out of your movement – and it’s hurting your Parkour skills.
Running well is one of the most important parts of the game. But we almost never think about it. Everyone learns to run from a young age, which means we take our skills for granted. You don’t think about your running technique because you have never needed to.
Is there really that much to running? Yes. A lot, in fact. Hunched posture slows you down. Weird strides force your heels on the ground, killing your momentum. Moving your body up and down too much wastes movement and energy.
All of these factors are going to take away your ability to move with efficiency. If you want to get the most out of your sessions, you need to relearn the most basic skill of all: running.
This article will help break down proper running technique, allowing you to get one step closer to a complete game.
What Role Does Gravity Play?
This might sound counter-intuitive, but you need to use gravity if you want to run well. You need to remember that, when you run, you are just falling over and over again.
We stop ourselves before we hit the ground. The strength used to pull our bodies back up is what causes the motion.
This might sound weird at first because you have been running your entire life without thinking about how it works.
The exact science behind running is not important here. The only thing you need to remember now is that running is about falling and pulling.
Try to notice this happening the next time you run.
Four Mistakes Everyone Makes
Before we break down the correct technique, here are a few of the most common running mistakes people make. These are the same no matter what the sport. If you can avoid these mistakes you will be well on your way to success.
1. Heels on the Ground.
This is the most common error amateurs make, and the most costly. Your heels should not be touching the ground when you run. This happens because your hips are behind your feet.
Your foot needs to be making contact with the ground directly under, or just behind your hips.
Remember this: your heel touching the ground means less speed and more energy consumption.
2. Wrong Cadence
Cadence is runner's talk for the combination of stride frequency and length. Most people try to increase their stride length to get more speed and power, but this usually reduces the frequency of their strides, making them slower.
You need to find a good balance here. Everyone's body is different. Remember mistake one. If your feet are landing in front of your hips, your stride is too long.
Practice on this until you have a balance that works, keeping your feet behind your hips.
3. Range of Motion
You need mobility if you are going to run well. This should be something you are already working on. It is important to be flexible if you want to achieve success in Parkour, and the same goes for running.
We have already talked about flexibility in several other posts. Just know that poor flexibility will lead to injuries and bad running form.
4. Stiff Upper Body
You need fluidity in all areas of your body if you are going to run with efficiency. This is the most difficult mistake for most beginners to grasp because many of them think they are already relaxed during their strides.
There are several keys to relaxing the upper body. First, you need to keep your arms bent at 90 degrees at all times. Do not let them extend during your back swing.
Second, do not allow your core to swing from left to right while you run. This is a very common error. Your body should be straight at all times.
Third, allow your shoulders to relax. All too often, runners will tense up their shoulders, keeping them high and tight. You need them to be low and relaxed to get the most out of your run. Try to notice your shoulder position during your next session, and try to keep them low.
Use Your Energy Wisely
If you eliminate the four mistakes listed above, you will already have greatly improved running form. The next piece to the puzzle is to understand how to use your energy with efficiency.
Remember that running is about falling and pulling. You should not be using energy for something gravity can do for you.
A doctor by the name of Nicholas Romanov invented the "Pose" running method to illustrate this concept. In the Pose method, runners try to spend as little time possible in what is called "the running pose".
Here is a photo to show you what that looks like.
As you can see, the "pose" is when you have your planting foot on the ground. The longer this is on the ground, the more load your legs and joints are going to take. It will also require more energy to pull yourself back up.
You want to make sure you are making contact with the ground in line with your hips. However, this means shorter strides and a slower pace.
So, how do you increase speed while also keeping your strides short? Gravity.
If you want to go fast, you need to lean forward. Do not bend over at your hips, rather let your entire body fall forward. The faster you fall, the faster you run.
Here is an image of a sprinter displaying proper "falling" technique.
While this is a picture of a sprinter out of the starting block, the idea is the same. The sprinter is not bending at the hips, he is literally falling, and using his legs to pull himself up with the next stride. If he stopped using his legs, he would fall on his face, and that's the point.
Put Knowledge Into Practice
Learning to run well is not as hard as you think. It is more a process of unlearning what you already know.
Take some time, and work on these techniques. You will find a level of speed and efficiency you never thought possible.
Breathe Parkour is Canada's leading parkour facility with 3 locations spanning all of Southern Alberta.