Q+A: Do I bob up and down too much when I run?

Q I’m very new to running, but I love it. It makes me feel great. However I’m worried that my running style is all wrong. I seem to bob up and down when I run with more upward than forward momentum. I’ve been told to think ‘form’, but what is good running form?

A It’s wonderful that running makes you feel so good. At the moment this is more important than worrying unduly about your running style. As they say, accentuate the positive!

Having said that, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your style, or ‘form’. The first thing to do is to try and feel as relaxed and economical as you can when you run. If you worry too much about your style you’ll probably begin to feel inhibited and tense, and that will just make things worse.

It’s quite difficult to drastically change your running style, but here are a few ways to tweak your form for the better.

Firstly, keep your forearms at 90 degrees to your upper arms, and roughly parallel to the ground. Keep them close to your body so that your hands and forearms almost clip the top of your shorts as they swing. Don’t let your hands cross in front of your belly button because it will twist your torso. Rest your thumbs lightly on your index fingers with your palms facing each other. Pretend you’re holding a crisp in each hand and that you have to run without breaking them.

Run tall, with your head upright and your hips tucked directly under your torso. And try not to lean too far forward. Also, don’t overstride. You want to use a short light stride (long striding often means that each foot stays on the ground too long and acts as a brake which slows you down).

If you’re in a club, see if any of the coaches are well -versed in the use of plyometrics and bounding. These simple exercises will help improve your power, strength, and speed, and if you persist with them, they should also help to modify your running style.

Finally try relaxed hill running. Running up a hill (it doesn’t have to be steep) can help improve your knee lift and the use of your arms.

But most of all, just remember that first point. Running makes you feel good!

Bud Baldaro, RW contributing editor and elite athlete coach