Our arms are kinda a big deal! They pull us along during those long runs, they keep us upright and balanced. They counter our leg movements so a weak upper body causes an imbalance of strength and a less efficient running gait.
To run our best, we need full body balance and strength and a little arm work can help us conserve the energy we need to go faster and longer!
It’s also important how we hold and swing our arms while we’re running. There are a few ways you might be using your arms that make you less efficient. Do you do any of these things? Sometimes the best way to see your form is to look at race pictures or have someone video you while you’re running.
- Your Arms Wing Out from Your Body – This is a sign that you have weaknesses in the abs or glutes, because the arms have to go farther from the body to maintain balance. What that means you need to add to your training: more planks (core strength) and more donkey kicks and fire hydrants (glute strength). You can do is add more hills or other inclines like bridges and higher incline settings on your treadmill.
- You Clench or Hunch Your Shoulders, Tightly Bend Your Elbows, or Cross Your Hands in Front of Your Body – These are signs of tension and wasted energy. In anything slower than a sprint, you want your arms to be relaxed. That means your elbows should be bent at about a 90-degree angle, with hands gently brushing by where your front jeans pockets would be. “Cup your hands so that the thumbs rest lightly against the first two fingers, as if you’re holding potato chips but don’t want to break them or a penny you don’t want to drop. Your arms should arc slightly as they come forward, but should not cross your body’s midline.
- You Arms Have Different Movements or Ranges of Motions
This is a clear sign of muscle imbalance… in your glutes. “Your push-off is weaker on one side,” says Peters, who recommends focusing attention on squeezing your butt muscles as you push off each foot to propel yourself forward. She suggests having someone film you from behind while you’re running so you can then watch where your arms travel when you’re in action.
When do our arms need to put in the most work? A powerful arm swing may make a big difference in a sprint, typically at the end of a race. Our arms account for about two to three percent of the forward velocity in a sprint. By pumping your arms on that final stretch when your legs are fatigued, you could make the difference between a good race and personal record!
Strength work helps us stand taller, straighter and with more power. It doesn’t take much but adding upper body strength can make a big difference!
Day 8 exercises: 3 sets of 10
- Plank Challenge Day 8 – Short Yoga Plank Flow (follow video below)
- Upright Row
- Bicep Curls 21s (3 sets of 21)
- Hammer Curls
- Arm Stretches
Bonus: Incredible Arms – 2 rounds!
Speed Work: Most likely, you’re already done with your speed work…at least you should be if you go long on Saturday. If not, you’re either doing your long run on Sunday, or doing your long run on Saturday with some heavy legs. You can push through heavy legs and it can even be beneficial for you to learn how to keep going when your legs feel like lead.
Either way, here’s this week’s speed work options.
Day 8 “how to” videos:
Day 8 Plank Challenge – Slow Yoga Plank Flow
Upright Rows: 3 x 10
Bicep Curls 21s: 3 sets of 21 – Dumbbells or a bar, either way works!
Hammer Curls: 3 x 10
Bicep Stretch: Skip to 1:24 in this video to see how to stretch your biceps which is important after today’s arm workout!