Marathon Training 2019 Day 9: Arm Swing (“Hip-to-Nip”) To Help Improve Running Performance

June 20 2018 pic 6 beautiful morning walk with Z small version“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing” – Barry Finlay

This morning’s run was another cold and dark run with wind, instead of ice. I ran for ~41 minutes, although there were times when I wanted to turn around sooner to get out of the wind! Yesterday, I mentioned “running tall” as an important cue for running form. Another one is “hip-to-nip”, which I focused on today. Basically, this means using arm swing when you run. Arm swing is beneficial for increasing cadence because as you swing one arm forward, the opposite leg will come forward to keep you running in a straight line. This can improve your pace and thus running performance.

After my chilly run, I did the following exercises:

  • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (10 repetitions of each for each leg)
  • Single-leg stand (~30 seconds for each leg)
  • Pushups (10 repetitions)
  • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with resistance band, 10 repetitions for each direction)
  • Prone planks (~40 seconds)
  • Side planks (~25 seconds)
  • Supine planks (~20 seconds)
  • Clamshells (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Y, T, I, and W (10 repetitions for each position)
  • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
  • Quadrupeds (15 repetitions on each side)
  • Toe yoga (10 repetitions times for each foot)
  • Fire hydrants (7 repetitions on each side)
  • Knee circles forward (7 repetitions for each leg)
  • Knee circles backward (7 repetitions for each leg)
  • Single-leg balance (~30 seconds for each leg)

Then, I spent ~10 minutes with foam rolling and eccentric lengthening exercises.

Recommendation:

  • Beginners (such as those wishing to complete their first marathon):
    • I recommend doing an easy walk for 20-30 minutes.
    • Also, perform any of the following mobility and strengthening exercises:
      • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Single-leg stand (~15-30 seconds for each leg)
      • Standard or knee-assisted pushups (5-10 repetitions)
      • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with or without a resistance band, 5-10 repetitions for each direction)
      • Prone planks (20-30 seconds)
      • Side planks (15-20 seconds)
      • Supine planks (10-15 seconds)
      • Clamshells (10-15 repetitions on each side)
      • Y, T, I, and W (5 repetitions for each position)
      • Double leg hip bridges (5-10 repetitions)
      • Quadrupeds (5-10 repetitions on each side)
      • Toe yoga (5-10 repetitions for each foot)
      • Fire hydrants (5 repetitions on each side)
      • Knee circles forward (5 repetitions for each leg)
      • Knee circles backward (5 repetitions for each leg)
      • Single-leg balance (~15-30 seconds for each leg)
    • In addition, I recommend foam rolling, static stretching, yoga poses, or active isolated stretching for at least 5-10 minutes
  • Intermediate/Advanced (those runners who have completed at least a couple of marathons and have not taken a significant amount of time off from running):
    • Dynamic warm-up.
    • Then, I recommend a 35-45 minute run at an easy pace, ideally in a primarily flat area.
    • After your run, perform the following mobility and strengthening exercises:
      • Leg swings forward and back with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Leg swings side-to-side with both straight and bent leg (5-10 repetitions of each for each leg)
      • Single-leg stand (~20-30 seconds for each leg)
      • Standard or knee-assisted pushups (8-12 repetitions)
      • Monster walks side-to-side and forward and back (done with or without a resistance band, 5-10 repetitions for each direction)
      • Prone planks (30-40 seconds)
      • Side planks (20-25 seconds)
      • Supine planks (15-20 seconds)
      • Clamshells (10-15 repetitions on each side)
      • Y, T, I, and W (5-8 repetitions for each position)
      • Double leg hip bridges (10 repetitions)
      • Quadrupeds (8-12 repetitions on each side)
      • Toe yoga (5-10 repetitions for each foot)
      • Fire hydrants (5-7 repetitions on each side)
      • Knee circles forward (5-7 repetitions for each leg)
      • Knee circles backward (5-7 repetitions for each leg)
      • Single-leg balance (~20-30 seconds for each leg)
    • In addition, you should perform a cool-down that incorporates foam rolling, static stretching, yoga poses, or active isolated stretching for at least 10 minutes

Tip of the day: Today, just before you start your run, stand with your arms hanging down.  Relax your shoulders.  Now bend your elbows to a 90 degree angle or slightly less angle between your upper and forearms.  Place your thumb on your index finger and hold it there like you were holding a potato chip, but don’t crush it!  Your fingers and thumb should form an “O”.  Position your hands so that they are inside your elbows or more towards the midline of your body.  Now practice swinging your arms so the hands brush the top of your hips and then come up to the same level as your nipples or slightly above (“hip-to-nip”).  This is the range of motion that you want for your arm swing.  When you are running focus on the backswing, instead of focusing on swinging forward.  Your opposite leg will come forward as you swing one arm back.  The faster you swing your arms the faster the opposite leg will come forward.  However, you don’t have to get crazy with the arm swing!  Remember that a cadence of 160-180 steps per minute would be a great place to start.  In future posts I will talk more about cadence and running form.  One of the runners I worked with a couple of years ago began incorporating arm swing into his running and he said it helped him improve his running speed.  In fact, he went on to break three hours in the London Marathon.

You may want to have your running form evaluated, to determine if there are any adjustments to your running form, that would help you improve your running performance and minimize the risk of injury.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.

Have a great day!

Your friend and coach,

Brian

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