You will never reach your speed potential with bad running mechanics! I'm always amazed at athlete's bad running mechanics. At Sports Fitness Hut's Speed And Power Camp, we worked on running mechanics everyday.
If you want to improve your running speed, you must first master the basic mechanics of running. Running mechanics have three main components: Posture, Arm Action and Leg Action. Listed below are some key checkpoints of proper running mechanics Checkpoints for proper running posture:
1. At maximum speed, the head should be held high. Also, the head should never sway from side to side and the jaws should be relaxed.
2. The head should be in line with the torso and the torso should be in line with the legs at all times.
3. There should be a slight body lean when starting and accelerating. At maximum speed, which usually takes about 4-5 seconds, the body is more straight up with tall hips.
4. The feet should be dorsiflexed (pointed up) at all times except when striking the ground. Feet should strike the ground on the balls of the feet.
Checkpoints for proper arm action:
1. Use the shoulders (and not the elbows) to pump the arms as fast as possible. The hands should be relaxed in unballed fists with the front hand rising up to about nose level and the back hand passing the buttocks.
2. Move each arm as one piece with the elbow bent at 90 degrees. Arm action should be straight forward, up and down and never flailing side to side.
Checkpoints for proper leg action:
1. The faster the running speed, the higher the heel on the rear foot should kick up. When the foot leaves the ground, it should follow a path straight up to the buttocks. It should not flail from side to side.
2. The knee raises up to where the thigh is parallel to the ground. The foot then drops down below the knee (knee angle is about 90 degrees).
Your foot should land under your hips. Drive your foot to use the ground to give you power . Don't overstride or it will cause breaking.
The more force you apply to the ground, the more the ground will "give you power." When you run, don't lift your knee past your "thigh being parallel" to the ground. This way, you will use your "power center" (glutes and hamstrings) to apply force to the ground instead of the less powerful hip flexors.
In other words, running "with high knees" is not the best way to run! Also, step over the opposite knee and drive the foot down into the ground to create maximum force. Your heels should never touch the ground.
3. At top speed, the drive (pushing) leg should be fully extended to the ground.
It's a good idea to practice running mechanics before, during and after workouts.