Running Can Be Almost As Satisfying As Sex, But Good Form Is Critical!

Most of you probably don’t know that one of my personal favorite cardio exercises is running. Running is absolutely, positively, one of the best and most effective cardio workouts you can do. And best of all, running requires nothing more than a good pair of running shoes (and clothes, of course).

As with every type of exercise (aerobic, strength, endurance, flexibility, or balance training), proper form will maximize results, efficiency, and greatly reduce the risk of injury. Good running form can make all the difference in the world between enjoying running or hating it.

For any runner to achieve the best results, running efficiently—relaxed and with good form—is an absolute necessity. More than anything else, practicing good running form will carry you to the finish line safely and enjoyably.

The adage, “Listen to your body” is an important rule for maintaining good form.

When we maintain good body position—head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over the mid-foot upon landing and arms swinging directly ahead—we run with good form and use less energy to run faster. If your arms, shoulders or back hurt or feel tense during training, you need a form adjustment.

New runners can greatly enhance their running experience by avoiding “zipper lines”, “chicken wings” and “clenched fists.” These three easy visual cues are telltale signs that your running form is breaking down. Fortunately, when we listen to our bodies and recognize these inefficiencies, each faulty habit can be easily corrected.


Running is a linear sport. Many runners spend a great deal of energy twisting their upper bodies, fighting the efforts of the lower body. Think of the zipper line on a jacket running down the center of your torso. If your hands cross that zipper line, the shoulders and the top half of the body usually follow the hands. The torque created from the waist up is energy that could be used to run faster.

Periodically, glance down at the position of your hands at the front part of your arm swing. If you see your thumb and forefinger, your hands are likely crossing the zipper line. A slight adjustment is all that’s needed. Hold your hands a little wider from your body, slightly wider than your hips. As your arm swings back, think about reaching into your back pocket. This extends your reach further in a straight line with less crossing over the zipper line.


When fatigued, our arm carriage changes and our body position often resembles the wings of a chicken—pulled up and close to the body. Our shoulders rise closer to our ears, as if we are shrugging and maintaining that shrug. Like a chicken, we can’t fly very well with our arms held tightly to the sides of our bodies. The result is a shorter arm swing and, consequently, a shorter stride. By taking more strides, we use more energy to cover the distance we’re running.

Soreness in the lower neck and shoulders is the body’s first signal of running with chicken wings. When you feel this tension, check your form. Relax your shoulders by dropping your arms to your side and shaking out your hands for 50 to 100 meters. This simple action will relieve the stress in your neck and shoulders. You can then slowly bring your arms back to a normal position and refocus on a relaxed arm swing.


A third common inefficiency occurs when we clench our hands into tightly held fists. Tension in our forearms rises up to our shoulders and extends to the rest of our body. This tension makes our hearts work harder to push oxygen-rich blood into our muscles, resulting in more wasted energy and, ultimately, a slower pace.

To release this tension, think about holding an imaginary potato chip without breaking it. If your fists are clenched so tightly that you can’t hold that chip, wiggle your fingers and loosen your grip. Body tension will reverse, allowing the deliverance of more oxygen-rich blood to our muscles with each heartbeat. We’ll return to a smoother, longer, more efficient stride, and more energy is saved for the finishing kick.


Zipper lines, chicken wings and clenched fists are early warning signs of fatigue and inefficient running form. By paying attention to our body’s signals, each is easily and quickly corrected.

Once corrected, your endurance level will improve, you’ll hold your pace for a longer period of time, and your good form will carry you through to the finish line.


Best of all, with time, proper form and longer runs, you’ll eventually experience what runners call “the runner’s high”— It’s the exhilarating, even euphoric, feeling that all runners eventually experience during longer runs when an endorphin rush makes running feel almost effortless. Seriously! No joke! Well trained runners and even those not-so-well trained can experience an almost surreal out-of-body experience of a runner’s high when the stars all seem to align and you feel like you could run for hours without pain or exhaustion! Just experiencing the runner’s high once will keep most people coming back for more.

If you’re looking for a full body cardio workout that can produce an endorphin rush almost as good as sex, give running a try!

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