If you're thinking of taking up running for exercise, it's very important that you learn how to run properly so that you don't risk injury, and so that you can maximize the results you get from running. Even if you're an experienced runner, you can injure yourself if you don't have proper form; improper running techniques are especially hard on your knees and other joints. Here are some things you can do to make sure you run properly and minimize your risk of injury.
Always run with knees slightly bent
Don't try to straighten your knee completely with every stride. Doing so may seem like proper form, but it's not. In fact, it stresses your knees out and can make injury more possible. Run with your knees slightly bent during your entire run.
Make sure you land squarely on each foot when you step
Be sure you are "centered" on your foot every time you take a step. You should be putting your feet down just as that particular leg is moving backward underneath your body.
Arms should be kept low
When you're getting tired, you'll notice that you'll begin to lift your arms to compensate. However, for best running posture, your arms should be loose and relaxed at your side, forearms parallel with the ground; holding your arms in this way also makes your stride more even, longer and stronger.
Shoulders should be kept square
When you're getting tired, you'll notice that your shoulders will begin to slump. Nonetheless, for best form, keep your shoulders square at the same time as you keep your arms loose.
Breathe regularly and evenly
When you run, get into a pattern with your breathing where it's regular and even. Breathe through both your nose and mouth, and focus on your breath once you've got your basic form and stride down, so that you keep at a certain pace. Focusing on your breath will help make the running easier, such that it can be almost meditative.
Keep your head up and your eyes in front of you
You don't necessarily have to rigidly focus on anything, but keep your head up and your eyes in front of you, paying enough attention to your surroundings, of course, that you don't risk running into someone or something.
Keep it loose
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard when it came to running was the adage, "Run sleepy." That doesn't mean you run when you're sleepy, of course, but it does mean that you get yourself into an almost meditative state, loose and easy, once you get your form down and you're in your stride. Being rigidly hyper alert can actually hurt your running (assuming, of course, you've got your basic form and stride down). Once you're in your zone, feel free to "let go a little bit," and simply focus on the rhythm of your stride and breath. You'll find that you run easier and freer if you do so.