The magazines, your coach or physio, a multitude of books and, yes, even bloggers are telling you your problems will be solved by improving your running technique. You’ll be faster, you won’t be injured as much, and you’ll become the runner you dream of being. Maybe you feel yourself moving in the right direction, slow but steady progress, and feel good about it. Or maybe you feel like you go out the door and fight the same battles on every run, with no sign of progress.
If the second situation is yours, there are a couple of reasons it may be happening. The first and most likely is that you’re trying to make the wrong improvements. If you’re trying to stabilize your pelvis, tighten your core, pull your shoulders back, tuck your chin, run upright, and/or swing your arms front-to back rather than crossing your body, then the problem isn’t with you, it’s with the advice. Read through The Balanced Runner Keys and you’ll likely start feeling better.
But if you are trying to follow the Keys and you still feel like things just aren’t progressing, here’s what you should do: stop trying to change anything and find something that’s already working. If you’re actually able to execute the gait of running in some fashion, then there is at least one thing going right in your technique, and more likely a few things.
One thing likely going right is that your upper body is probably turning at least a bit. That’s good.
Another one is that you’re probably leaning forward at least a tiny bit. Good for you!
Whatever it is that’s working, just enjoy that when you run. Don’t do it more or harder or even intentionally. Just let it be, like a person you are so comfortable with that you can be quiet together, not talking.
And while you’re doing that, don’t judge or try to change anything else you’re doing.
Chances are excellent that if you just focus on being comfortable and savoring the part of your running action that’s working well, other parts will start working better. Your running technique is just one thing, not a collection of parts, and each characteristic of it is connected to all the others.
So when you just let the things that are going right continue to go right and don’t fuss or tug or try to correct anything else, things will begin to sort themselves out.
And before long you’ll notice something else going right too.
And so it grows.
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Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.