This is as important as distance and speed, especially for new runners. Every runner regardless of experience can improve their form. Focus on:
1. Staying relaxed: Shoulders should be down and not hunched around ears. Hands should be relaxed and not tight. Face should be relaxed or smiling, not frowning or brow furrowed.
2. Posture: Shoulders should be over hips. Mostly upright with a very slight forward lean of the upper body
3. Arms: Arms are very important to running. They should be relaxed around hip height and should pump forward and back with each stride. Arms should not cross in front of your body. Have your parents or a friend video you for visual feedback. If you are frustrated with your running, work on arm strength!!
4. Feet: Feet should be quiet without a loud stomp on each footfall. Feet should come up over ankle with each step. Lifting knees and kicking with heels to your butt helps.
5. Eyes: Look up ahead of you. You need to watch your foot steps on trails but should alternate with a forward gaze ahead of you.
6. Mind: Mentally focus on strong, positive ideas to encourage and motivate yourself. Find your own mantra (2-4 word motivational phrase) to repeat in your head. You must believe it to achieve it!!
7. Breathing: Count your steps. Breathe in on 1,2 and out on 3,4. Elite runners can experiment with 1/2 breathing or more advanced patterns. Practice this until it becomes a habit.
8. Smile: Yes, SMILE!!! Smiling has been documented to take time off of races and runs. Smiling tells your body and mind that things are good and it ignores the sensations of pain. This is easy to do, so let's make the other teams wonder what we are up to!!!