Proper Running Form: Cutting Through the Noise of Sound Running Technique

by Jason Fitzgerald

What is proper running form? Because it’s a complex question, you should be careful who you ask for advice.

Proper Running Form

Ask ten runners about running form and you’ll hear ten different explanations about the best running technique.

Even more dangerous, those who shouldn’t be giving running form advice make all the classic mistakes. Just yesterday I polled runners on SR’s Facebook page for common misconceptions about running technique.

Runners shared some concerning pieces of “wisdom:”

Running will destroy your knees!

Chi or Pose Running are the only ways to ensure proper running form

Running is hard on your body and you shouldn’t run lots of miles (especially a long run)

Heel striking is ALWAYS the devil

Run on your toes – a forefoot strike is the only way to prevent knee and hip injuries

You need “special” (and usually expensive) shoes to correct your running technique

Early in my running career, a podiatrist told me that “the human body is not designed to run longer than five miles.” Countless researchers have now proven this belief to be entirely untrue. And over fifteen years of hard training later (and multiple 3,000+ mile years), I can now confidently retort, “You sir, are full of shit.”

Unfortunately, many of these attitudes persist and it can be frustrating to cut through the shades of grey to find what’s true and what’s a load of BS. Most of our assumptions fall along a spectrum and there’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all approach.

Is heel striking bad? No… but it can be.

Is a cadence of 180 ideal? No… but it’s a pretty good goal.

Can sound running technique be taught? Yes… but not every runner needs to change their form.

To clarify this complex topic – and explain the BIG WINS of form – I invited Jeff Gaudette to answer your top questions.

Proper Running Form: The Interview

Jeff Gaudette is a former professional distance runner for the Hansons who has qualified for the Olympic Trials in both the 10k and Marathon. He boasts personal bests of 28:46 (10k) and 2:22:02 (marathon).

Now Jeff is the head coach at Runners Connect and creator of the Running Form Course. This 4-week program includes video lessons and guest lectures on running technique by top coaches and researchers like Daniel Lieberman, Jay Dicharry, Pete Larson, and Dr. Irene Davis.

With that all-star lineup, I knew Jeff was the right person to finally sort through the hype and figure out the best way to run for YOU.

So we got on the phone for nearly an hour and talked about mistakes, form cues, cadence, and more aspects of running form.

Click the play button below to listen to our interview:

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You can also click here to listen to the interview in a new tab or save it to listen to on your next run.

In this interview, Jeff answers:

  • Should runners actively try to change their form?
  • What are the most common mistakes runners make?
  • If you could make every runner change one characteristic of their form, what would it be?
  • Heel strike? Midfoot strike? Forefoot strike? All of them?!
  • Is there value in Chi Running or The Pose Method of running?
  • and a lot more…

I want to thank Jeff for speaking with me and being so candid about what works, what might work, and simplifying the discussion about running technique.

Should I Change My Running Form?

That’s the million dollar question! Some coaches suggest that every runner needs to adopt a certain form. Others think form should be left alone at all costs.

I fall in the middle of this spectrum and believe most runners (particularly recreational and age-grouper runners like me and you) could benefit from adopting a more efficient technique.

The real litmus test is your injury history: if you’re virtually injury-proof and are able to consistently run pain-free, then keep doing what’s working! Your running form is most likely pretty damn good.

But those with chronic injuries or repeated cases of the same injury need some help. This history indicates a problem somewhere and it’s likely your form that’s contributing to your injury woes. If that sounds like you, adjustments to your form are a good idea.

A Bonus! I Love Bonuses!

Jeff’s new Running Form Course is the only step-by-step program available that can help you improve your running form and become a more efficient runner.

I’ve taken the course myself and was impressed not only by the quality of the material, but the simplicity of the course. It’s easy to follow and includes the best guest lecturers you could possibly ask for:

  • Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit
  • Dr. Pete Larson
  • Jay Dicharry
  • Dr. Greg Lehman
  • Matt Philips
  • Dr. Irene Davis

With the help of these experts, the program helps runners become more efficient, less injury-prone, and ultimately faster. I almost never promote any other program on Strength Running (because most of them are by wannabe runners and coaches who don’t get results), so you know this must be effective.

Because I absolutely love this program (and know that it could help you), I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: when you get this course, I’m going to give you free membership to the SR Boot Camp.

Just buy the Running Form Course here and then email me your receipt by Friday, 10/18 at midnight Pacific and I’ll enroll you in the 28-day Boot Camp program at no charge.

My goal is to help you become the best runner possible. And when there’s a program that does a better job than what I have for you, I believe it’s my duty to share it with you.

Check out all the details (including the course outline and videos). I hope you enjoy it!

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