Simple is Good! Easily Applied Running Technique Cue

It’s the job of a coach to possess a deep understanding of what we’re specifically trying to achieve with any given drill, cue and exercise. We have to appreciate the various mechanisms at work to reach the desired outcome.

That said, where I feel many of us fail sometimes (myself included) is in then condensing this complexity down to a succinct set of words which resonate with the athletes we’re working with.

I have to constantly tell myself: Simplify! Don’t over complicate things!

As simple running cues which provide profound effects go, I love the example above…

Last updated on March 2nd, 2021.


  1. More of Simple is Good please. There is so much out there or on courses which is complicated and needs a degree in biology and physics. As a coach to new/developing athletes I keep things uncomplicated but I like to explain in simple terms why we should do certain things. It is good that they understand this without being bamboozled and switching off.
    One thing you can maybe help with in this regard. One the one hand, in coaching youngsters not to over-stride out front, I tell them that a long stride actually comes from good extension of the leg behind you. At the same time I am telling them that you don’t want the foot on the ground for too long and they should have a quick and light foot action with a slight lift of the heel as they push off. So how best to explain this without the quick foot contact/heel lift cue negating good hip extension?

  2. ‘Drawing your belly button in’ is simple and I’ll definitely give it a go. However the caption then reads ‘more effective triple flexion in the swing phase’ – not my idea of simple I’m afraid James.

  3. Wondering if you have any articles on
    achilles soreness or plantar faciitis

    Thank You, Love your web site!


  4. Hi James-Can you explain what you mean by “swing phase”. It comes up in a lot of your posts and I’m never quite sure what it is. Thanks. Enjoy your posts and miss your podcast!

    1. Of course, Don. Simply put, swing phase of gait is essentially the movement of the non-weight bearing leg swinging through the air. Between the point the foot the leaves the ground, and subsequently returns to the ground to begin the next stride. I hope that helps!

      Thanks for the kind words. I’d love to get the podcast up and running again. Need more hours in the day 🙂

  5. Interesting article, as always.
    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on pelvic stability in my case. I have a mild scoliosis of lumbar spine resulting in 1″ leg length discrepancy, right hip is higher and rotated backwards slightly. I am asymptotic in my back but get lower limb niggles from time to time. I’ve had hip/leg discrepancy as long as I can remember but only discovered it was scoliosis recently and am unsure how to create stability. Fairly reluctant to try shoe insert. Thanks in advance.

  6. hi James – great site – has helped me a lot.

    One question.When running I ‘belly breathe’ which is supposedly the best method for efficient breathing as it uses the diaphragm to full effect. Would you say that belly breathing and ‘gently drawing your belly button in as you run’ are incompatible?

  7. Hey James. I agree with the gentle core activation. I work with a biomechanisf out of the university of Alberta in Canada and how we’ve been training running form and core during the runs is to “gently do an ab crunch” which feels very similar to drawing your belly button in. Are we achieving the same thing here ? Your method might be a bett cueing overall though