The only unacceptable answers are related to running from your problems. If you aren't trying to outrun messages from your ex, then you should critically think why you run, because that will lead us into how you should be running. You could be wasting your time, or even worse, injuring your body. (Note that this article aren't for people who race professionally).
Seems simple enough. After you pass the step of crawling and then walking it seems almost like an evolutionary impulse, next is running! That probably would be true if we still moved like our ancestors, upright, constantly walking and squatting. Though, thanks to Think Different campaigns, we now have to think different in our approach to running.
As a functional training coach there are three focuses for why you would partake in the joy of bouncing along trails, mindlessly, for extended periods of time.
Are you running for performance, aesthetics or function.
Performance has a focus on total distance. Like those 10k's your buddy is always trying to go to, that is an example of running for performance. These programs contain consistent long runs. When running for performance the stride you use is whatever stride gets the most out of your run for distance.
Usually short strides with an emphasis on quads, stand straight up and pull your shoulders back and landing on your arches with every step so that it naturally bounces back up when you release (the girl in the above picture is running for performance). This stride generally uses less energy. Consolidating energy, is the name of the game when running for performance. The goal is to increase distances without stopping, pacing is master.
Aesthetics has more of a focus on sprinting short distances.Explosive movements consume an immense amount of energy in a very short period of time, that's why these are best for weight loss and to develop the muscles for a leaner appeal. All power in short distance will force blood into the muscle and expand muscle fibers so that your muscles bulge. This has a focus on strides with an open gate and a full swing, while leaning forward and twisting the torso as you drive the feet.
Staying on the toes during the entire movement and pushing forward as if you were going up a hill. This will force you to lean your center of gravity forward and every step is as if you are catching yourself from falling. The goal is to increase the time of a consistent distance.
Functional running is the only style of running designed for longterm health. Functional running has a focus on synergetic movement. stability of your body is going to be the focus before you even run. Meaning, you have to make sure all of the muscles are properly firing, at the right tension, before you even start with your form. So mobility and balance training have to be mastered first. The rules for functional fitness are in order of mastery at:
1. Mobility - Flexibility X Strength - Having strength in at end range positions
2. Stability - Using all muscles equally, creating a balance of muscles to complete a task
3. Strength - Placing the muscles under a load
4. Power - Releasing the strength of the load in an instant
5. Endurance - The amount of time that the muscles can last under exertion
Once you are mobile and stable, your training will be a combination of the former two styles. Fast strides, for exhaustion, but also go for longer and longer distances. This movement is more of a gallop, you will be moving quickly and both feet will be off the ground at the same time but it is not an all out movement. Striking the ground heel to toes with a spring, off the toes, as you release into another galloping stride. With a gate similar to sprinting with arms and torso swinging in the opposite direction of the hips. Core strength is a major component in this style of running.
The goal is to increase the distance of a consistent time. (i.e. how far can you go in 30 minutes).
I hope you see the relationship of why, and then how, you run and how it makes a difference in obtaining results. It's nothing we think about that often, unlike Game of Thrones (like, wtf), yet it yields phenomenal results. As a practicing , in person, coach I am constantly gaining new clients who have been running for years and are, for all intents and purposes, broken. The danger is in doing the same thing everyday without correction. It doesn't take much time to find your why in the running game and then course correct to how you should be approaching your run.