While we aren’t all born with the long-limbed, thin bodies of world-class runners, we can maximize what we do have by working on technical efficiency. Focus on these five areas to run more economically:
Stride Length: Over-striding occurs when the foot strikes the ground in front of your center of gravity, which is essentially like putting on the brakes. If you glance down while running and can see your toes way out in front of you, focus on keeping your feet directly below your hips.
Run Cadence: Shoot for a run cadence similar to cycling. Around 85–90 strides per minute is good for taller men, while 90–100 is efficient for smaller athletes. Cadence can be quantified by counting footfall on one leg for one minute.
Forward Motion: Run tall and proud, but don’t bounce. Bouncing causes unnecessary vertical braking forces. Imagine running under a low ceiling: If you bounce too high you’ll bang your head.
Arm Motion: Arms provide some rotational stability, but the movement should not be excessive. Keep elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees, and don’t let your arm swing cross your vertical center line. Arms also drive the legs. The faster you swing your arms, the faster your legs move. Lightly pumping your arms is really helpful for running uphill and sprinting.
Leg Recovery: A slightly bent leg requires less power to bring the leg through during the recovery phase of your run stride. The faster you run, the higher your heel lifts on recovery. Don’t exaggerate heel lift when running at slow speeds. The best triathlon runners have a low, limber gate with a relaxed leg recovery.