Improving your running form may be just as important, or more so, than training for speed. Blasphemy you say! Let me explain.
A runner that has a more efficient running mechanics will exert less energy than a runner moving at the same speed, but with poorer form. Why is this important? This is important because you need to run for speed during the APFT, and solid running mechanics will allow you to put all your energy into your speed without losing it in your form.
Research has shown improving your form through a faster stride, less body movement, and fluid movement of your arms will allow you to exert less energy to maintain a certain pace. Improving in these key areas can also help reduce injury and help you preserve your energy for that final ‘push’ at the end of the APFT run. This means faster times.
Let’s take a closer look at these 3 areas. I also want to recommend (again) the book Be a Better Runner for great insight into improving your running mechanics.
Improve Your Stride
Aim for at least 170 steps per minute. Anything less and you are more than likely overstriding, which means you are landing too far out in front of your center of mass. You want to take shorter steps, and land lightly on your feet. This may mean you need to raise your knees a little higher than normal to help you not want to step to far out. Easy way to tell if you’re running at the right steps per minute? Listen to Monkey Wrench by the Foo Fighters, or The Distance by Cake…both songs hit the minimum 170 steps per minute beat.
Eliminate Excess Body Movement
Bobbing your head around and flailing your body simply wastes energy. You should be moving in a straight, forward path at all times. Keep your eyes focused straight ahead, looking down around 100 yards or more. This will help you stay focused and prevent your body from straying off the straight path.
Maintain Fluid Arm Movement
Some runners naturally tend to want to tense up and run like a robot. This not only is inefficient, it also looks ridiculous. Arms and hands should hang loosely, and move in a front to back motion. When you run with your army moving diagonal across your body, you throw your momentum away from forward propulsion. Think of the Olympic sprinters with their arms and hands moving in perfect alignment with their bodies. It works.
Master these movements, improve your running mechanics, and you will improve your APFT run score.
Once you have your running mechanics down, be sure to look at our post Training for the APFT Run for a great training plan to maximize your results.
Be sure to subscribe to our APFT Training Community in the sidebar for monthly tips, workouts, and resources to improve your score on the APFT!
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