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Why runners should keep their elbows back

NOV 8, 2023

Minute 1: Focus on arms and elbows for better form

To the untrained eye, proper running form is all about the legs. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that good form requires a harmonious balance throughout the whole body. Everything from the angle of your head to the spring in your step matters, and according to some experts, arm swing is one of the most overlooked factors. The good news is, it’s quite correctable, according to this new story from Outside: “Want to Run More Efficiently? Focus on Your Elbows.” Generally speaking, your arms should be swinging in the same direction that you’re moving. Runners’ arms should move vertically, rather than horizontally like soccer players and other athletes who dart side to side. By keeping your elbows back and paying attention to the position of your hands, you can make sure you’re oriented the right way. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re several miles into a workout and your arms start drooping, dragging proper form down with them. To build the strength and endurance you need to prevent that arm droop, check out: “Upper Body Workout For Runners: Benefits + 11 Exercises To Try Out.” Movements like the superman, pushups, and up-down plank recruit your stabilizer muscles, so performing these exercises can help you develop muscle control, not just raw power.

Minute 2: Hydrate like the greats in your next half marathon

It doesn’t matter how much training you do, without enough water to hydrate your body, you won’t go far. If logging miles has you feeling dry as a stale scone, it might be time for a dietary change. That’s especially important on race day, which is why we’re taking a look at the “Top 10 tips for hydrating when training for a half marathon.” Everyone’s needs are different, so it can be helpful to measure your water loss during exercise. Try weighing yourself before and after a 60-minute run to calculate how much water weight you sweat out, and what rate of intake you’ll need to be replenished. For a rough estimate, you can use a “Daily Water Intake Calculator” that’s based on your age, height, weight, and activity level. Finding the balance between replenishing water and electrolytes is important too, which is why some runners prefer to drink sports beverages during training and racing. For optimal absorption rates, you’ll probably want to have a balance of each, according to “Sports Drinks vs. Water: When It’s Best To Use Each.” Diluting a typical sports drink, or using a weak ratio of sports drink powder and water can help you strike the perfect balance to keep your body running like a well oiled machine.

Minute 3: Watch out for ultra-processed foods

To grow healthier, you’ve got to trust the process. Unless you’re referring to processed foods, that is. Food processing is a way to alter foods to increase shelf life or modify the flavor, but in some cases, that comes at a price. If you want to know which kinds to avoid, look no further than “Ultra-processed foods are seriously unhealthy (and these are the items hiding in your pantry you didn’t realize you should avoid).” Ultra-processed foods include things like sugary breakfast cereals, microwaveable dinners, sweetened beverages, and certain fast food items. They often contain added sugars and lots of saturated fats. You’ve also got to watch out for “sugar-free” foods which may contain artificial sweeteners. Some sweeteners are okay for you, as you can see in “What is Stevia?” Others can cause spikes in blood sugar or stomach pain and digestion trouble. While we’re on the topic, if you’re experiencing stomach discomfort, you should look into the benefits of ginger: “Should You Be Taking Ginger Everyday?” Whether it's a can of ginger ale, or a shot of blended ginger root, you’ve probably experienced the stomach soothing effects of this superfood before. But the benefits don’t stop there. Research has found that ginger can reduce inflammation, regulate appetite, reduce soreness, and even lower risk of certain cancers. The key is, you’ve got to consume it on a regular basis over time, so try some of these “28 Great Ginger-Forward Recipes.”

Minute 4: Say goodbye to saddle soreness

We love almost everything about cycling, but we could surely do without saddle soreness. That’s the pain you get on and around your groin area after a bike ride, and it can be especially difficult for runners who only cycle occasionally as cross training. Luckily, with the right technique and gear, you can minimize the discomfort, according to: “Avoiding saddle soreness – A complete Guide.” The first step is to make sure you’ve got the right bike fit. That can be done by changing the saddle height and angle, as well as handlebar position. If you’re confused on how to make the right adjustments, follow the tips in “How to set the saddle height on your bike.” What you’re riding on is important, but so is what you’re riding in. That’s why it’s a good idea to look into bike shorts that have forgiving fabrics and extra padding. To see a few options, check out “The 11 Best Cycling Shorts For Every Rider.” It’s important to remember that more padding isn’t always the solution, according to “10 Tips to Prevent Saddle Discomfort.” Too much padding can reduce your stability on the seat and cause rocking back and forth. Try out different combinations of shorts and seats to find the right amount of padding for you.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • In our most recent issue, Brian Metzler took a look at the environmental impact running shoes are having on our planet, and the outlook wasn’t great. If you watched the NYC Marathon this year, you probably caught sight of the new Adidas’ Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1, which is taking flack for its reputed poor sustainability. They’re essentially designed to hold up for only one marathon before breaking down, and that’s just the start of concerns brought by super shoes. If you want to dive deeper into this ethical dilemma, check out this new story: “Super shoes have ‘blown distance running into a new stratosphere.’ Are they benefitting the sport?

  • Dogs are called a human’s best friend, and according to recent research, they’re even more deserving of that title than we thought. That’s because there’s evidence to suggest owning a dog is an effective way to boost your longevity, thanks to the increase in activity and socialization they bring to your life. To see the details, read about these “6 Ways That Owning a Dog Can Majorly Boost Your Longevity.”

  • You may have heard from your mom or your high school gym teacher that running will damage your knees. Well, if you look into the data, that claim is quite dubious, and in fact, it seems that a controlled amount of stress on your joints actually keeps them working better for longer. It’s all about finding the balance, and limiting excessive impact forces when possible, which is why these “3 exercises for unshakeable knee strength” are so useful.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

We came across a video this week that made us say “Oh, deer.” Actually, it was more like “OH, DEER!!!” In our experience, these friendly fawns are pretty down-to-earth, but the video captured one deer that was going fully airborne as he vaulted over a pack of cyclists at an event in Greenville, SC, this past week. We’re not sure who was the fastest cyclist that day, but we think the deer deserves to take home the trophy for the most impressive feat of athleticism. You’ve got to see it to believe it, so check out the short clip below. Keep an eye out for the George Hincapie cameo.


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