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If Running is Supposed to be So Natural, Why is My Form So Lousy and What Can I Do About It?

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I began my running career when I was 12 years old, so I basically grew into the habit. As such, I never really gave too much thought to my running form. I figured if I looked horrible while out running, someone would say something. I made it through four years of track in high school and excelled through collegiate athletics, and never heard a peep from anyone, so I assume I look okay while out on the running trails.

A few years ago, after completing a race, I actually received a compliment from a fellow participant who crossed the finish line just moments after I did, and he told me, “You did great. You have great form. You look like a true runner.” No one had ever said anything like that to me before. Now when I am out running, in the back of my mind I sometimes remind myself to make sure I employ proper form when pounding the pavement. I actually think about it a lot more ever since I received that compliment. I also find myself observing the running form of others on occasion. Here are a few types of runners who have passed by my house in recent months:

1) The “I started this exercise regimen when I was 65, so please give me a break” runner. This is the fellow who, bless his heart, is out there every day, shuffling along, getting that heart rate up. His feet barely lift off the ground and his arms are held at a stiff 90 degree angle to his body. He looks uncomfortable, but dedicated.
2) The “I’m barely into my teens and am a lanky and awkward runner.” This type has his arms flapping all over the place. He usually has his head down, staring at the pavement, occasionally looking up but giving the appearance that he feels he will lose his balance if he keeps his head up for too long. He looks uncontrolled and sloppy, but at least he is out there getting in shape.
3) The “I like to run with my dog” runner. This is the guy who takes his dog along for his daily run, but the dog seems to be more in control of the situation than its master. Therefore, the runner is leaning forward and is moving ahead, feet hitting the pavement square on instead of it the forefront of the foot. He is stomping more than running, and it doesn’t look like fun.

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