How to Avoid Heel Strike & Building an Efficient Running Stride

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Running. It’s important. Especially if you’re training for the zombiepocalypse . . . or a triathlon. But some of us (OK, me), are really bad at it. If you’re looking to improve your running form to lower your overall triathlon time, or to keep you injury free, I’ve learned a few things from my tri team coaches that have certainly improved my technique–as well as my energy output.

1. Stop the Jazz Hands

If you’re making too much movement with your arms, swinging your hands, or letting either cross your body, you’re using too much energy. Keep your arm motion to a minimum by remembering these key ideas:

  • Don’t let your hands cross the center of your body. In other words, if your arms are swinging too far to the left or right, you’re letting them move too much. 
  • Keep your elbows back behind the mid-line of your side–don’t let your arms swing too far forward (or back for that matter) in your motion.


2. Stand Tall & Look Ahead

I have a tendency to hunch over, wincing in lung-burning agony at the pure horror of running, and stare at my toes as they punch forward into my view. This is bad, and possibly why I keep wincing. So keep your head up as though you’re on the lookout for the finish line. This will help to keep you from leaning forward at the waist, and instead encourage you to lean at your ankles.

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3. Back It Up

Keeping your running motion behind you will you to avoid from heel striking and stopping your forward momentum with each stride–in effect saving loads of energy with each step. A quiet, shortened motion will let you put all your energy into moving forward, and hopefully prevent or possibly cure shin splints.

The following video includes a long explanation of this method for changing your stride. You might give his ideas a shot if you’re having trouble with heel strike and injury:

Finally, check out a few other videos on drills for practicing great running form.

These few ideas have dramatically improved my split times. Try them out, and let me know what you think!

About Bek 301 Articles
SLO Cyclist's former chief editor and recovering road snob, Bek made sure everything ran smoothly around here. She was also the one who reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously--unless it involves black socks. Black socks are always serious.

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