Run Like a High School Student… As An Adult

If you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or even 60s, can you train like a High School athlete? Many folks, including myself, have asked this question and I was surprised when I learned the truth. Subsequently, I had this existential moment when I ran across this excellent video series from the New York Road Runners.

I had this feeling because I, surprisingly enough at 43, am no longer a part of what would be considered “the youth.” However, as I’m watching this video, I realize that the training looked fun. Why don’t I do that anymore? I had no excuse for myself why I couldn’t. The kids were doing all right outside, and it’s even more important for adults to “train like an athlete” to keep up with their own health and wellness.

Do I Need To Train Harder As An Adult?

What are you doing, fellow adult, with your body? Do you yourself fall into the category of someone who tell themselves: “Am I so past my prime that I can no longer go outside to play? Do I think I can no longer improve your physical fitness like the high schoolers do?” If you think that way, think again. If you’ve given up on your physical fitness, then it’s time to give back in.

Many adults I have come across who are past the age of 40 have given up. I know I’m an active adult. However, I’ve found in more cases than not I’m the exception. Yet, if you look around at the people taking their dogs to the park to play, they’ll often just sit there and accept their sedentary fate parked on a bench under a tree. Still, look at these high school athletes! They’re sprinting, distance running, and doing high-step skips! So they question remains: Why aren’t the older adults doing this, and why aren’t you?

I’ve also noticed as I run with trail runners a lot. We bound over obstacles, hike up steep hills, and surf the downhills. Yet, if I’m going to be critical of my friends, most of us are slow runners and we can’t bother to incorporate sprints.

Yet, perhaps I’m projecting and talking to myself here. Do I want to be a well rounded human? In my 80’s, do I want to be able to run, jump, and skip? Is my profession in a physically demanding occupation that is designed to help enhance and optimize physical fitness?

The simple answer is yes. Yes. And you can, too.

So I’m repurposing this High School athlete’s master class in running form into my own benefit. If you’re over 30 and you want to stay in shape, you can do this as well.

Introduction To High School Running.. For A 43 Year Old


This course is broken up into 5 segments.

Improving your running technique will help you run with greater ease and efficiency. Consistent training will help you avoid injury. Soon, you will become better aware of your body mechanics. Finally, constant, regular training will improve your endurance, make you stronger, and make you faster.

It’s possible to reach your fullest potential past the age of 30!

Running is a technical sport and a learned skill. You can learn to improve it just takes time, energy, and patience. Drills help you break down the components of running. The benefit of doing this as a well-rounded athlete is that it will improve your strength, agility, and coordination for the other things you do in your life.

As this video says, High School athletes are able to become aware of their running form and are able to correct it to improve it. Are you, as an older individual, able to do the same? Definitely. It’s interesting that they point out that younger students may be still going through their growth phases, and some of the drills like high-skips will make them feel awkward and uncoordinated. Well, they just don’t know that it’s equally awkward as a 43 year old. We got through it once, we can absolutely do it again.

Fundamental Athletic Skills


In this video I was extremely interested in the drills that the athletes are doing. Meanwhile, I was shaking my damned head at the coaches in the video who are closer to my age, and who look more sluggish than me, even though their job is to hang out at the track all day and play. The kids are doing awesome drills! If I were a coach, I would be tempted to risk the ribbing from my students to participate in the drills myself.

This is the video that teaches you to adopt the athlete’s lifestyle.

Six Fundamental Athletic Skills For Runners:

  1. Strength: The capacity to generate forceful muscle contractions.
  2. Power: The ability to generate forceful muscle contractions quickly.
  3. Coordination: The skill of sequencing and timing muscle contractions. (Cariocas look silly, but they develop coordination.)
  4. Flexibility: The ability to move joints and muscles through a full range of motion.
  5. Balance: Leads to joint and posture stability.
  6. Agility: Enables runners to change direction quickly.

Form and Strength Drill Circuits, where you repeat the same cycle of movements are helpful to build your athletic foundation. Set up a combination of explosive exercises, some endurance, some upper body strength, and some lower body strength. This drill session should be 30-40 minutes. It’s easy to tell a kid to do this because they listen to their coach, but will you do this as 50 year old? You can.

Running Posture

We like to emphasize the importance of posture in our clinic in San Francisco, as many folks work in tech and sit at a desk all day. This video shows that good running posture will help you move more efficiently, prevent injuries, and promote a positive mental outlook.

Three Key Elements of Running Posture:

  1. Run tall. Keep your head up and your chin parallel to the ground. Lean slightly forward but not too far so as to hunch over. This will help with your lung capacity.
  2. Keep your torso stable with everything facing forward. Knees and feet pointed forward and not out or in. Don’t let your head bob or shake. Also, don’t let your body sway or rotate in your run.
  3. Stay relaxed throughout your body. Keep your face and jaw relaxed. Avoid holding your shoulders highkeep your neck and shoulders relaxed. In addition, you should loosen the grip on your hands.

Leg Movements


This is the video that caught my attention to this series. Surprisingly, this kid’s running form is irreproachable. Take a look at how easy it his for him to adapt his running to demonstrate errors. I’ve never seen such a concise resource for running mechanics along with such a clear demonstration of good and bad.

There are six fundamentals of leg movements:

  1. Run lightly on the feet; don’t pound or plod.
  2. Land on the midfoot, or the balls of the feet.
  3. Run with quick feet.
  4. Land with the foot and knee pointed in the direction the body is traveling.
  5. Lift the knees, bringing them up in front of the body.
  6. Choose a stride length that feels natural and comfortable. Ideally, the feet should land beneath the body or as close to it as possible.

Arm Movements


Arm swings stabilize your body. The opposite arm to the leg will push forward together. Left arm, right leg. It should feel very natural.

Don’t let your arms swing past your body’s midline. Keep your elbows close to your body so they don’t flare out to the side. And, arm swings should happen at the shoulder joints, not the elbows. Keep your elbows bent at a consistent angle. Your arm drive should be in front of the body as well as behind the body. In addition, your shoulders should be down and back, not high and tight.

Arm Movement Fundamentals

  1. Swing each arm forward and backward in sin with the opposite leg.
  2. Pump the arms forward and backward in line with the direction of movement. Also, avoid swinging them across the body.
  3. Swing the arms from the shoulders, not the elbows.
  4. Swing the arms through a full range of motion.
  5. Keep the shoulders and hands relaxed.

You Can Do It!

Many folks at an older age feel that their athletic days are over. Sure, we’re not as spry and energetic as we were in high school. However, with a little hard work and a drive to improve and keep going anyone can work out and maintain a workout to rival any high school student.

After watching these videos, I would love to know what you think. Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

As a very casual runner, I saw some stuff in the arms and legs mechanics videos that I need to pay attention to. Every day is an opportunity to improve. So take your time and learn as you go.

The second video that talks about building athletic skills was an eye opener, as it caused me to realize that I personally could do with this kind of training. Everyone can improve their bodies, make themselves more fit and full of energy. Adults can train like high school students and improve their lives. It’s done wonders for me.

Ryan Todd Lloyd, DC

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