There’s no running form “rule” that’s always true and no running form “mistake” that doesn’t serve a purpose in the right situation. So even though leaning forward is virtually always the right thing to do (get the details here), there is one circumstance when a distance runner might spontaneously run upright for a good reason.
Share in the comments what you think that situation is and why. Then check back here next week for the correct answer!
And if you’re looking for more reading beyond the forward lean posts I linked to above, check out All Running Form is Good Running Form.
11 thoughts on “Test Your BRIQ: When Should You Run Upright?”
The first instance that comes to mind when running more upright w/o a forward lean is “right” is when running downhill – especially a steep rough surface or slippery downhill. I would rather sit on my bum if I fall than on fall on my face on this sort of terrain. Stride is also shorter when going down an incline that is uneven. That said I have left some competitors in my dust flying downhills in races but in those instances I was pretty confident with the footing and the competitors were heel striking and giving their bodies a beating. Eager to see the answers of others in this discussion!
When not accelerating
When running slower for recovery or easy run. I purposely run upright and I have the impression of running in place even as my knees are moving up and down but not much else is happening. I’m still moving forward though.
I run several hills in the area I live and positioning my upper body in a more upright position is how I tackle coming down those steep hills.
Two cases come to mind…when descending a steep grade and when slowing down to stop. The motion is the same: back off on the forward lean and shorten the stride,
Interesting to read some of the other comments so far – I would run more upright when ascending an incline in order to keep my line of sight aligned with the crest of the hill and to not compress my upper body (more breathing capacity)!
1) When trail running extremely technical terrain, that forces you to keep your eyes focused just a stride or two ahead.
2) On very slippery surfaces, such as ice and dense/slick mud.
I would run more upright on an uneven pebbly surface allowing my feet to relax and my arches to become springy!
Most of the time ,bending knees more and working with gravity /keeping forward lean when running downhill I’ve learned from you and others -helps keep knees healthy because being/pulling upright going down hill causes “braking’ with each step adding stress to the knees. The only reason I can think of in my non expert student capacity to consciously make yourself upright is if you need to titrate speed and balance to avoid an accident or fall when running i.e.: If your speed going downhill gets to feeling out of control, or possible slippery conditions or an extra treacherous small patch, or having to run over extra unwieldy bumpy terrain on a trail -. – stepping ,having to “jump” “run” over roots , having to “dance” sidestepping ruts of go over logs.-or having to stop short-immediately. As a student of Tai Chi , it seems that when running on any unforeseen terrain that can really upset balance it is prudent to have your entire kinetic chain aligned over your center of gravity until on more stable terrain . I love the difference– when doing Tai Chi I feel rooted with the earth yet can still translate that same body/balance connection in a seemingly paradoxical way at first, but magnificent feeling of a fully embodied stable balance (my body still has the body awareness of that capacity to be fully physically rooted – it remains alive, coiled patiently in my nervous system waiting to be called upon in an instant-helping me be fully present in my body, yet simultaneously mindfully enact a skywards, airy shift when running) applying it to running in a light, dancing across the earth kind of way that feels like true joy – only the present here and now in every step!! Your teaching, dear Jae,has been a revelation to my running – honoring my body as the miraculous teacher that lives in me and all of us! Incredibly grateful for your fascinating work:) Sending you the best uplifting thoughts -may your own joyful, dance of running flight always be with you!!
When you don’t have to counter the air resistance against your upper body. That may be when you are decelerating, running with the wind from behind, running on a treadmill or on the moon, if you consider the last two to be running.
When running downhill.