Kara Goucher's 6 Tips for Beginning Runners

By , Kara Goucher, Olympic distance runner
Even if you've never run before, or have taken a long break, you can get into a routine without injury or agony. Olympic distance runner Kara Goucher shares 6 posture tips that will help you run more smoothly and efficiently. From Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons.
  1. Stay upright. To ensure you’re running tall and not slumped forward (a common mistake), visualize yourself as a puppet dangling beneath a string that is attached to the top of your head. Your head, torso, and legs should all align directly below that string as you run.
  2. Face forward. Keep your head level, eyes looking forward, and keep your face and jaw relaxed, with mouth slightly open. (You still sometimes hear that breathing through the nose is the best way. Not true! Simply breathe as you normally do.)
  3. Keep shoulders down, with arms relaxed. Don’t let your shoulders “bunch up” around your ears. Keep arms bent at the elbows at around 90 degrees, and allow your hands and wrists to stay supple and slightly floppy. Allow your forearms to come across your stomach when they come forward, as opposed to straight forward and straight back.
  4. Lean slightly. It’s best for your pelvis and butt to feel “tucked in” and forward, to guard against swayback. Keep your torso upright, with just a slight forward lean to help propel you forward.
  5. Land gently, leave quickly. Visualize yourself being light on your feet (hot coals, ouch!) and lifting each foot quickly after each step. After a while, you won’t need to think about it. Too much time on the ground with each foot will slow you down and make you a sluggish runner.
  6. Think short, efficient steps. Sprinting is all about taking long, powerful steps. With distance running, short and efficient is best, as it allows you to conserve energy. This also helps you land on the balls of your feet with each step, which is generally more efficient than landing too far back on your heels or too far forward on your toes.
Will you use these running tips? What "mistakes" do you make when it comes to proper form when running?

Kara Goucher, author of Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons (Copyright © 2011 by Kara Goucher), is the World Championship bronze medalist for the 10K and a top U.S. marathoner. A member of the Nike Oregon Project, improving standards for distance running, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, professional runner Adam Goucher and son, Colt. 

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