When running you should not make a lot of noise. Loud heavy noises, scratching or shuffling noises, and slapping noises are a good sign that something is wrong. Of course you cannot be absolutely silent, but if you are running well, you will usually surprise any pedestrians you approach from behind, even if there no background noise from traffic. I've learned that when I'm approaching someone from behind, to either make a noise that they will hear, or to give them a wide berth. I have unintentionally startled people very badly, who had no idea I was behind them, until they saw me with their peripheral vision.
Time on the ground
Becoming sensitive to the length of time your foot is touching the ground. This might take some time and some experimenting. Again, it will be worth the effort. When running, you want to minimize the time your foot touches the ground with each step. Most people, regardless of technique, are either unaware of the how long their feet remain on the ground, or they have the perception that they are already lifting their feet as fast as they can. However, after paying attention to this for awhile, most people will begin to feel variations in the timing of their pull. Ideally you want to feel your feet just tapping the ground and bouncing off of it.
When I am running well, I get the bouncing sensation that I mentioned above. This sensation is more pronounced the faster I run. I literally feel the tendons in my feet and ankles returning energy into my pull. Again, this perception may take time to develop, but it will help you to quickly check on the quality of your technique.
Running on Sand (or Ice)
I posted on this subject a few weeks ago in Footprints in the Sand. Sand can be a great way to find flaws in your technique. If you are very confident in your technique, you can also try running on ice. There is a video of Dr. Romanov running on ice (see below), and because his technique is so good, he is able to run very fast despite the slippery surface. Beware though! If your technique is not nearly perfect, you will spend a lot of time falling down.
- Run in thin soled shoes, or even barefoot. Thick soled running shoes will dampen your ability to pick up on these cues. I've found barefoot running to a very powerful method to develop perception and sensitivity.
- Get rid of the iPod and other distractions. When you are developing your technique, pay attention to your running not to your favorite music, pod cast, or audio book.
- Pick one thing to focus on at a time. While you are running, every few minutes check on one specific element of your technique. It's okay to rotate through a list of things to check while running, but generally focus on one element of technique with each check-in.