Running efficiency is a much neglected element of running. We runners spend so much time trying to improve our speed and endurance but we tend to neglect this aspect – which is actually a very important element of running. With better running efficiency, we use less energy to run faster. Running more economically means you can run more efficiently with the energy you have – without the need to take a gel for more energy.
The one mistake many runners make actually has nothing to do with your legs or feet. It has actually got to do with your upper body form. In order to maximise the energy you use when running, you need to maintain good upper body form. It is very important to keep your core engaged throughout and maintain good arm form.
What is good arm form?
When people run, they either keep their arms really close to their body or let them go out to the side. Note you want your hands to be always swinging in the direction that you are moving in. Let your hands swing down to about hip level and comes back up. Make sure your elbow stays at a 90 degrees angle and you are swinging forward and back. This hand to pocket position can improve the stability of your body.
Basically when you see runners having a cross body position of their arms, this indicates a decrease activation of your core muscles generally. You would hence expand more energy when running.
One way to maintain good upper body form is to strength train. Strength training is very important. The longer you are into a run, your form starts to falter . Strength training helps prevent this faltering form. A strong core helps keep your body upright. So, the key is to ensure your muscles and joints are strong to prevent your form from faltering especially in the later stages of a race when your body starts to tire. So, do your planks, situps and even squats can help strengthen your core muscles.