5 tips to help you improve your running form

The fatigue on a long run can take its toll on your running form and gait. A recent study found increased ground contact time, hip drop and ankle eversion (turning outwards) in tired runners. ‘Changes to running mechanics are natural but costly in terms of your economy and performance,’ says Gareth Cole, a specialist in biomechanics at The Third Space, London. Here he shares his advice on combating the effects of fatigue.

Hips

In the study, hip adduction increased by 10 per cent. ‘The upper leg drifts towards the midline as a result of the pelvis dropping,’ explains Cole.

Cue: Hips high. ‘Think about staying tall and maintaining a level pelvis.’

Ankles

Ankle eversion was 25 per cent higher, increasing ground contact time. ‘The longer the foot’s on the ground, the harder you work,’ says Cole.

Cue: Fast and light. ‘Spend less time on the ground and try to pick your feet up faster.’

Elbows

Tired runners drop their arms, but ‘a longer lever is less efficient and means more work for shoulder muscles’, says Cole.

Cue: Wrists above elbows. ‘This will help you maintain an elbow bend closer to 90 degrees for a more economical arm action.’

Spine

Fatigue increased trunk forward flexion by four degrees. ‘Thoracic flexion hampers breathing, while having your centre of mass in front of your base of support forces the quads to work harder,’ says Cole.

Cue: Chest up. ‘A logo on your T-shirt should face forwards, not down.’

Knees

Force production in the quads was down by 26 per cent. ‘The amount of knee flexion increases as the quad muscles fatigue,’ says Cole.

Cue: Brace for landing. ‘Don’t let the leg “sink” over the foot.’