The Keys to Flawless Running Technique

Instead, focus on running tall. An athlete with a slouched posture places restrictions on the limbs' ability to move freely. Still, despite the need for good running posture, stay loose—not rigid. A rigid posture leads to muscular tension that, in turn, inhibits performance.

Relaxation: After spending an hour or six on the aerobars, many triathletes hop off the bike with tight, bunched shoulders. And, as fatigue mounts, athletes frequently shrug their shoulders up into their necks, limiting their arms' ability to swing freely.

More: Focus on Form: Offseason Cycling and Running Drills

Build physical relaxation techniques into your training program and race-day regimen. Work at keeping your fingers, hands and jaw relaxed; no clenched fists, as this creates stiffness and tension. Emphasize the backswing with your arms and stay smooth and symmetrical.

Cadence: Cadence, or leg turnover, is one of the keys to running quickly. Harry Wilson, coach of four-time mile world record holder Steve Ovett, once said, "If you want to run fast, you have to keep your legs moving fast."

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Triathletes are well known for their dedication to high-mileage training, and while this may improve their overall strength and conditioning, it can be at the expense of leg speed.

To retain your quickness during the season, include weekly short-repeat speed sessions on either the track or the road. During the early season, before you begin your specific race-preparation phase, include several sets of 15 seconds of quick legs during every run: You needn't go hard—just increase your leg turnover.

Trunk stability: Good core, or trunk, strength provides stability to the torso and limits inefficient body movements such as twisting.

As many of the muscles that generate movement originate in the core area, good conditioning can help an athlete produce speed and cope with race-day fatigue. This conditioning can be acquired through a number of activities, including Pilates and exercises such as crunches.

More: Do You Have Bad Running Form?

Rhythm: As noted above, athletes who run with an exaggerated stride length tend to be inefficient and tire quickly. However, understriding is also inefficient. An economic stride length tries to extract the maximum amount of return for the minimum amount of effort. To this end, work on keeping your hamstrings loose, as tightness can increase fatigue and enhance the perception of fatigue.

If you try the above tips and still don't see any improvement in your running, consider having a training partner videotape you. From the tape, you should be able to pinpoint areas of tension that can reduce running efficiency.

More: Get Rid of Running Tension by 'Running Tall'

And while running performance may not be quite as closely correlated with good technique as an activity such as swimming, getting it right on the roads will allow you to run flat-out with economy at your next race.

Active logo Focus on your running form at a running event near you.

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