Jog with head up or head down?

Odd question I know but has anyone found a difference if they jog with their head down watching their feet/road or with their chin up?

Apart from wandering into the odd hedge/tree I find running with my head down, concentrating on my breathing, heel toe heel toe and listening to the podcast music seems to make me go a wee bit faster and it feels easier.

When I run chin up I feel like I'm going slower and not running quite so well but then I feel a bit more confident and my chest feels like I can take in more air with my head up.

I'm still very new to this. Is there a "best" way to run or is it all down to personal style?

16 Replies

  • At the end of the day it is very much 'What works for you' We are all unique and what suits some will not suit others. I prefer to run with my head up - I get less shoulder pain that way. If you listen to the Strength and Flexibility pod cast it talks about good posture and I try to keep to that, it prevents injury in the long run. (Not a pun!) Just do what you're comfy with!

  • I run with a Run England group on Wednesdays and the leader there is a triathlete. She says good form is: running head up, arms parallel to each other (like train pistons), landing mid foot not on the heel, and keeping belly pulled in not flapping about, as mine does unless I keep tension in it :( Don't know how much of that is the 'best' way to run but there's my input :)

  • Thanks, that does sound sensible and being a triathlete she must know what she is on about.

    I'll keep my chin up and do the choo-choo train arms (I do this while playing with my little boy so I think I can manage it) the belly will be a challange though!

  • Further clarification - 'arms parallel to each other' ie hands not going inwards towards the front of your body - does that explain it any better ????

  • I do the arms across the body thing when I run which I know isn't right but I cant seem to stop myself! I'm too busy trying to battle on through each run to even think about how I look - I guess I can work on that once i've graduated! :)

  • I only keep my head down to watch out fr dog poop :(! Otherwise head up :) xxx

  • I read somewhere you use more oxygen/energy if you have your head down. Also run as thought there's a piece of string attached to your head keeping you upright! (I know), but apart from 'vital' glances down as fightingfit said it makes a difference, definitely.

    Good luck,


  • Head up for me as a head down creates tension in the neck. I observe the trail - I run in the woods - and I look about 5-10m ahead so that I know if there's something to avoid (tree root, dog or horse poop...). Watching what's surrounding me is much more interesting than watching my feet. Lol

    Good luck! :-)

  • Just read this on another website:

    Look at the road ahead, not down at the ground. Your head weighs approximately 7-10 lbs., so having your eyes glued to your feet brings the weight of the entire upper body forward, putting you in poor alignment and restricting your breathing.

  • That makes sense - thanks. I do feel like I can take deeper breaths with my head up.

  • Have my head up mostly, but look down in areas where its tricky underfoot.

  • I try to keep my head up because Laura told me too ;) I know I'm struggling if I realise I've got my head down...

  • Haven't got to this bit yet.

    Listening to Laura so far I've managed to actually run for 90 whole secs (onlly on week 2) so if Laura says so then that's what I will do!

  • ... but don't take any notice of the 'land on your heels' bit, as that now appears to be outdated advice and is likely to be uncomfortable.

  • Not necessarily. There's a lot of heated debate about heel strike versus mid-foot strike. There is no empirical evidence that says one is definitely better than the other.

    Barefoot running (or running in "barefoot" shoes) encourages a mid-foot strike. Normal walking is only efficiently achieved with a heel strike and conventional running wisdom advocates the same for running (it initiates the Windlass effect which facilitates effective propulsion).

    Do what works for you: strain injuries are found with both running styles.

  • I used to worry about my arms and feet and breathing 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 but came to the conclusion that as long as I was running, and enjoying my running, the rest didn't really matter. I'm now doing 5k in 24 minutes and can keep going for half marathon distances without real difficulty. So I guess what I'm saying is to do what you feel is right rather than what might technically be best.

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