Good Running Form: Learn to Become a Balanced Runner™

Would you like a simple set of guidelines to good running form that would help you feel healthier, faster, more efficient, more joyful, and more naturally connected to the world around you?

Although human movement is complex and each person’s body, history, and learning process is different, I’ve been working on formulating the basic keys for good running form into one simple list for the past fourteen years. My goal is to offer fundamental guidelines that will be transformational on some level to every runner who reads it.

The first version I created was also my first YouTube video, The 5 Biggest Mistakes Beginning Marathoners Make. It definitely is a reflection of my best understanding at the time (2012), but we’ve all done a lot of learning since then.

Here is my most recent version:

Print this pdf, read it over, and see if one of the first six running form keys seems easy or comfortable to you on your next run. Allow yourself to relax into doing it and see if, after a while, you also find yourself spontaneously doing one or two of the other elements on the list.

Just notice, don’t try to force anything to happen. (Here’s more about that strategy.)

Then forget all about it and think about whatever you want (perhaps what you’re having for dinner) as you finish your run. Next run pick another element that you’ve noticed yourself doing in the past or think you could do without working too hard or forcing anything, focus on doing that, and see which other elements on the list might appear after awhile.

What makes the Keys different from most good running form tips is that they’re not just a list of what to do with different parts of your body. Instead, all of the keys are connected to each other and reinforce each other–they’re all aspects of the single, whole-body action that is good running form. So if you start with whatever part of the list is easiest for you, it will help the rest begin to appear.

Keys 9 and 10 are the strategies that will further assist your ideal running form in developing naturally. Have those in mind all the time.

As you work on this, always remember: good running form is easier–not harder!–than bad running form. So allowing yourself to relax into doing these keys should not increase your level of effort or your heart rate! If it does, back off and try something different from the list.

I’ll write about each of the nine keys on the list in turn here in my blog in the coming months, so for further explanation please stay tuned.

I’m eager to hear how this goes for you, so please leave a reply letting me know your experiences!

8 thoughts on “Good Running Form: Learn to Become a Balanced Runner™”

  1. Hello Jae, I know what some of the points mean but before doing lessons with you I would have found a lot of these points confusing, especially lean forward (I would have been leaning from the waist) and keep your core in action. I know “in action” means moving, but I was so used to hearing that you have to hold yourself with your core I would have interpreted this as such. Obviously all will become clear when you do a full evaluation of each point! Hope this doesn’t come across too critical as it’s not meant to be.
    Best wishes, Jane

    Reply
  2. Hi Jae,
    having followed your invaluable conributions to this world for a while now, I’d like to take this opportunity and thank you from the bottom of my feet for your guidance and empowerment.

    I’ve had this pdf pinned to the wall of my home gym/office for a while now but never undestood key 8… Could you please elaborate on this since my natural breathing pattern on casual runs always settles on 3 in and 4 out (depending on the terrain of course… ), thx.

    Cheers,
    Martin

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comment, Martin! I’m not sure anyone’s ever thanked me from the bottom of their feet before–love it!

      I’m going to be working my way through all these keys in the coming weeks, and making updates as needed, since I originally formulated them in 2014 or so. That one is actually due for an update, but meanwhile just stick with your natural breathing pattern, and let it vary as the terrain dictates.

      Reply
  3. Hi Jae,

    As I wrote in my email to you a few days ago, I was in panic just one week from my marathon on 10/8 because of some nagging tightness that would flare up from time to time during training runs — in the knee, hamstring, and IT band areas. I thought there was a good chance some serious injury would make me unable to complete the race.

    Then I discover this website. I read the 10 keys to good running form (several of which I already practice, but most were new to me — especially about Core Action). I managed to practice them twice over my final two (easy) training runs. Then I religiously try to follow these keys throughout the entire marathon.

    What you taught pretty much saved my running life!

    Not only did I finish the marathon with no strain (let alone injury), I beat the Boston qualifier time by almost 20 minutes.

    What is more: the efficiency gain I was able to achieve — after just TWO practices!! — allowed me to finish strongly, which made me think that had I discovered your teaching a few weeks prior, I would have tried to maintain a faster pace and finish several minutes faster.

    Thank you so much!

    Reply

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