Running Form · 6 September 2012

Day 10: September 5, 2012

Apparently, I have misunderstood what experts have to say about running form and style. I have always been told that to run efficiently, you need to make sure your arms go straight forward and backward, and your elbows should even rub against the sides of your body. Your arms should not cross your body when running in this efficient manner. I have taught this to my football players and other athletes because it makes sense. After all, it is logical that the body should use most of its energy to propel itself forward with this smooth flow of body parts. Unfortunately, this seems to be wrong for my running body.

When I have run before, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi said I looked stiff. She even went so far as to say that I run like my lower back is fused. Like usual, my wife was right. In fact, I took her observation to heart and tried to fix this lower back stiffness before, but found myself running with my hips rotating and my arms crossing my body, which as I said was supposed to be inefficient. Since this went against everything I believed about running, I quickly went back to running like a stiff. This long ago experiment with a running form change lasted less than a mile. I could not get over what I had been told before.

When The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi made this observation again recently, I tried to run with a more nimble lower back. Again, when my back was used more like a swivel, my arms naturally flowed in front of my body. This time, instead of rejecting this form as wrong and going back to running with a fused lower back, I tried to look at my whole body objectively.

Rotating my hips did cause my arms to flow across my body, but it also made me feel natural and smooth. I could extend a bit farther and thus felt faster. I could also engage more of my whole body as I ran and actually felt more efficient instead of less so. Maybe I had misinterpreted the running style I learned long ago. Maybe it was merely for sprinting where the reaching and rotating do not oppose each other so much. Or maybe I just did not know anything about running at all.

I have not been able to run much since I have tried running with a more engaged lower back. My body wants to run, but my schedule has not really been conducive to it. However, when I have run in the halls or the field of our high school, I have let my body be more relaxed. When I run more freely, like a kid, it seems effortless and natural. I feel both faster and quicker. Which seems to me more efficient.

Even though I have not run much with this new form, I feel like I am able to run without expending extra energy. The energy I used to expend holding my hips perpendicular to my direction of motion and my arms parallel is now conserved and can be used elsewhere. I am sure I do not have all the answers, but I am certain that as I run more I will develop a running form and style that fits my body and my needs. While I am not going to discount all I previously believed about efficiency and running, I am going to listen to my body. I am going to try and understand what it says about running form and style. After all, when it comes to my running, my body is the real expert.

© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi

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  1. Heck yeah this is eactxly what I needed.

    — Fannie · Sep 16, 04:22 PM ·

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