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Running Form Tutorial & Checkpoints

Unlock efficiency, prevent injury, & maximize runs with this checlist. Improve your stride & become a stronger, faster, healthier runner!

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Introduction to Proper Form

Good running form is crucial for efficiency, injury prevention, and getting the most out of your runs. While proper technique may feel unnatural at first, focusing on your form from the start will pay major dividends as you build up your mileage over time.

This tutorial will break down all the key elements of proper running form, from your head position down to your footstrike. We’ll also analyze a sample runner’s form to illustrate the right and wrong techniques. Finally, you’ll get a handy running form checklist to keep in mind during your workouts.

Head & Shoulder Position

Having the right head and shoulder alignment is the first piece of the form puzzle. Keep your head up and eyes focused ahead, not down at your feet. Imagine a straight line from the top of your head following the length of your spine. Relax your shoulders down and back, not tensed up toward your ears.

Arm Swing

Your arm swing is the driving force that propels you forward. Bend your arms at 90 degrees and drive them straight forward and backward in line with your body, not crossing over your chest. Engage your core and keep your hands in a relaxed fist around shoulder height. The bigger gear the arm motion, the faster you’ll go.

Body Positioning

Maintain an upright posture leaning ever so slightly forward from the ankles, not overly hunched over. This engages your core and glutes to power your stride. Your feet should strike the ground directly underneath your body to maximize efficiency. Avoid twisting your upper body - face forward and allow your legs to open up behind you.

Footstrike & Cadence

There’s debate around the ideal footstrike pattern, but most experts recommend a midfoot or forefoot strike. Land first toward the middle of your foot, then allow your foot to roll forward toward your toes. Aim to strike the ground underneath your body, not overstriding out in front. Keep a relatively high cadence/turnover rate of around 180 steps per minute.

Breathing Techniques

Don’t hold your breath! Establish a relaxed, rhythmic breathing pattern that complements your cadence. A simple pattern is inhaling for 3 steps, exhaling for 2 steps. Or you can inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Find a pattern that feels comfortable and consistent.

Notice how their head is upright with shoulders relaxed, arms are driving forward and back with minimal crossover, feet are striking underneath and body is tall yet slightly leaning forward…

[Highlight both positives and areas for improvement]

Running Form Checklist

Print out or memorize these form cues to focus on during runs:

  • Head up, eyes focused ahead
  • Shoulders down and relaxed
  • Arms driving forward/back at 90 degrees
  • Upright posture, leaning slightly forward
  • Strike midfoot underneath body
  • Cadence around 180 steps/min
  • Maintain relaxed breathing pattern

When to Focus on Form

While it’s important to ingrain good habits from the start, you don’t need to be perfect right away. For newer runners, focus more on building up mileage safely. Once you have a solid base, incorporate form drills and concentrate on those cues during technique portions of runs.

Even for experienced runners, form can fall apart towards the end of long, fatiguing efforts. That’s normal - simply resume focusing on form when you’re refreshed. Video analysis periodically can also identify areas to keep working on.


Efficiency and injury prevention stem directly from running with proper form. While it takes diligent practice, mastering good technique will make you a stronger, smoother, and faster runner over time. Use reminders like checklists and video analysis to instill form cues that eventually become second nature. With patience and consistency, great running form will stick for life!

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