People often ask me the best ways to improve their running form. Making changes to your form for no good reason however can sometimes lead to problems. If your current form isn’t causing you any problems or injury, here are some simple tips you might want to try first, before we begin to examine your form.

Include speedwork

While you might not want to train yourself to run faster, the faster you run, the more efficient a running form your body will adopt. When you increase your speed, you’ll see that your posture naturally straightens, your arms will begin to move, and your stride length will increase as your feet spend less time on the ground and more time in the air. The more you practice running faster, the more efficient a runner you will become. Introduce speedwork carefully if you’ve never tried it before. Include some 20-30 second bursts of speed in the middle of a run, or try an unstructured fartlek session once a week where you run efforts of varying speed and distance between lamp-posts or trees. Build up to structured interval sessions as you gain experience and confidence.

Run up hills.

Short hill reps of around 30-60 seconds are excellent for encouraging a more efficient running form, and create a similar adaptation in the body that short interval sessions do. Hill sprints power up your running, as they are effectively resistance training; you versus the hill. If you’ve never tried running up hills before, include a few minutes of uphill running into some of your runs, or try some short hill repetitions with recoveries (jogging, walking or standing) that are around 2 to 3 times the length of the uphill effort.

Strength train

Strength training doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, the simpler the better. As well as helping to prevent injury, including exercises which help improve balance, core strength and mobility will help contribute towards your running efficiency and stride length. Exercises such as squats, lunges, step-ups, single leg work, and exercises which target the core such as the plank, are all great exercises to practice regularly.

Practice running drills and plyometric movements.

Drills are exaggerated movements which emphasise elements of the running motion in isolation, and which the more we practice, the more natural they become. Movements such as high knees, skipping, hopping, and fast feet (for increased cadence) can help improve our running economy through repetition of a learned movement, improve our mobility and range of motion, and strengthen the muscles used, so it’s worth scheduling drills in either as part of a warm up, or as a standalone session once a week. Plyometrics are movements which incorporate jumps, and are important for building explosive strength which will translate into less time on the ground, through a longer, more energy-efficient, stride, as well as improving our elastic recoil, helping our body become more efficient at releasing energy and pushing off into the next stride.

Include a weekly long run.

As well as training your overall aerobic fitness, including a weekly long run can help improve your running form, because practice makes perfect through repetition. Aim for around 90 minutes to 2 hours as a long run if you’re not training for a long distance event. if you’re not used to running for this long, build up to this slowly, by adding 5-10 minutes onto your longest run each week. Be careful not to run this too fast either – the key is running at an easy intensity so you can get the most out of your other sessions dedicated to increasing your speed.

This is a version of an article I originally wrote for my friends over at Protein Rebel. You can find the original article here.