Running Form – Arm Swing

Anna Boom

Moving Your Body
Swing those Arms!

As a running coach, I often get questions on running form. I am always hesitant to try and change another runner’s form. Why is this? Because every single runner has developed her own style, her own running form and it is as unique as you are. It comes from the many different physical factors, such as height, weight, length of your legs and arms, skeletal build, etc. And it also started to develop from the moment you started running? Do you remember when that was? Me neither but it was long before I researched minimal shoes, which running skirt is best, or why to wear compression socks.
But there are a few pointers I wanted to share on how to be more efficient. Over the next weeks, I will write up some that you can take with you on your next run.
First, let’s talk arms. Notice the picture I started with of Paula Radcliffe. Her elbows are bent about 90 degrees. Her hands are relaxed and lightly cupped ( I liken it to holding an egg, if you grip too hard, it’s gonna break!). Her hands are high, near the bottom of her rib cage. As she begins running and her arms begin to swing, her hands should graze the bottom of her rib cage. As you run, to help propel your body forward, swing your arms. This momentum will help drive you forward. Your hands will lightly graze the bottom of your rib cage.
Notice this the next time you walk somewhere. As you walk, your opposite arm will swing forward (as long as you’re not carrying anything). Use this natural body movement in your running too.
Keep from swinging across your body. You want to be moving forward, not to side to side.
On your next easy run day, try to think of this as you’re running. It may feel awkward at first, as all changes do. This one small movement with help shift other parts of your running form too.
Let me know how you did!

Are you a Self-Competitive Runner?

Jannine Myers

Start of the Monster Mash Half Marathon – Oct 13th, 2012

Congratulations to all the Monster Mashers who got out there in the windy and slightly rainy weather last weekend! I’m not going to lie, that felt like one of the toughest half marathon courses I’ve done yet, although I’m not sure if it was because it was so hilly, or if I just hadn’t trained well for it. Probably a combination of both.

My one consolation, thank goodness, is that I was already familiar with some parts of the route, having run all over Kadena Airbase on numerous occasions.  Also, I had done part of the course a few weeks earlier, to get some idea of what I might be in for. I remember thinking at the time that I would be a fool to run the race, given how I felt on that particular training day, and yet, there I was last weekend, standing at the start line wondering what on earth I was doing there!

What is it about races that they draw us to the start line, even when we are convinced that we’ll stay away? I had been telling myself for several weeks that I would not run the Monster Mash Half Marathon – mainly because a) I hadn’t been doing too well on some of my training runs, and b) I have only been logging on average, around 24 miles a week for the past six months or so (compared to previous training months where I would typically log a minimum of 30 miles a week).

So how did I end up at the start line then? Simple – I told myself I’d just run “for fun.” Who was I kidding? Who runs a half marathon for fun? Or any race for that matter? Okay, okay, some of you actually do run races for fun, and I envy those of you who do. But there are many of you reading this, who like me, don’t like to run a race without challenging yourself.

I don’t see anything wrong with a little self-competitiveness, but when we know we haven’t prepared well for a race, we need to be mindful of the potential to hurt ourselves if we set our sights too high. I’ll be honest, I’m all about visualization and telling myself “I can…..” but I also think that the scope of “I can goals should be realistic. A good friend of mine helped reinforce that idea when she suggested that I treat the race as a “hard training run.” It’s funny how words can make all the difference, but somehow those few words appeased my A-type personality. Essentially, what she was saying, is that I could run hard without pushing beyond my current capability. But more importantly, I could still run hard without injuring myself.

Still, after much back and forth debating, right up until the morning of the race, it was a tough decision to make. Should I run, or should I not run? Finally, with the advice I had received, tucked away in the back of my mind, I made the choice to run, but not “race.” Switching my goal from one which would have forced me to try and finish the race within an unrealistic amount of time, to one which instead allowed for me to run hard but finish comfortably, took an enormous amount of pressure off me. My adjusted goal still required me to “push myself,” but within a safe parameter. The outcome, I imagined, probably wouldn’t be great, but neither would it be disappointing.

My point, I guess, is that sometimes it pays to switch off the competitive button, and play it safe instead. With several other races lined up in the near future, was it really worth putting my body at risk just to try and chase another race PR that I already knew would not be possible? Definitely not!

Some races are worth putting out the all-or-nothing effort, but not all of them are. Practising a little self-restraint, and switching off that competitive button from time to time is not only good for the body, but good for a little character-building as well.

Waving to friends on my way to mile 5

Road ID For Runners

Jannine Myers

It occurred to me the other morning, while running alone in the dark, that it would be easy to trip over something unseen and seriously hurt myself. I thought about this because I had recently seen a Facebook post by a friend who, in the early hours of the morning, almost knocked himself out while shutting the hood of his car. I wasn’t going to name names, but since you said it’s okay Paul, I’ll go ahead and tell your story.

Paul was in the carpark of the Foster Pool at 4:50am, ready to start his Masters swim workout, when he accidentally closed the hood of his car on top of his head. Anyone who knows Paul, knows that he has an unfortunate tendency to injure his head. But that’s not where I was going (sorry Paul, couldn’t resist); the point I want to make is that his injury (shown below), could have  been much worse. It’s possible that an accident of this nature could have resulted in unconsciousness, and had that been the case and no one was around to identify him, he would have been carried off to the hospital as “Mr Nobody.”

My husband has often suggested to me that I carry some form of ID on me while running, and while I know I should, I hardly ever do. Living in Okinawa has lulled me into a sense of complacency that’s fooled me into thinking I will never need it. In fact, the only time I ever carry ID on my runs with me, is if I know I will be running through one of the base gates. Otherwise it’s either my water bottle and house key that leaves the house with me, or nothing at all.

But lately I’ve been thinking; would it really be so bothersome to carry some ID with me? Wouldn’t it provide me (and my husband/family members) with a greater sense of security, knowing that I’ll receive a much more expedient level of care if I did happen to wind up on the side of the road, in need of emergency medical attention?

So here’s what I have decided – to purchase a RoadID wrist band:

If you think this might be a good idea for you too, please keep an eye on the WOOT/WOOP announcements, as the company, RoadID, has offered us a one-time 20% discount on any of their products. See the link below to their website:

Let’s be safe out there on the roads!

Be Kind To Yourself – There’s Only One You!

I received two great blog posts recently – one from former WOOT member (and previous contributor) Stephanie Ermel, and one from our regular contributor Anna Boom. The content and theme of both their messages is strikingly similar, so much so that I felt compelled to publish them together in one post.

Guest Contributor – Stephanie Ermel

As I go through this pregnancy, I’m constantly seeing how yogalosophy has taught me everything that I need to handle this period of growth and life in general. Today the importance of child’s pose was my lesson. In five years of being a yogi, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve taken child’s pose. I’ve never allowed myself to go there because it meant that I was tired, and tired was a sign of weakness and for quitters. How could I practice yoga and not honor my body – what yoga is 100% about?

Just because I can push harder, doesn’t always mean that I should. Throughout these early stages of pregnancy I find myself thinking about the mom who finished a marathon just hours before giving birth. “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I, all too often, allow myself to be robbed blind. Keep your eyes on your own mat – that’s one of the hardest lessons in both yoga and life and the reason why I often practice without contacts or glasses. If I can’t see others then I can focus on myself, the only person that really matters.

Not in a selfish way but in a self-loving way, I have to accept and love myself before I can honestly do the same for others and model that spirit for my future children. During exercise when I get tired, I push myself through it and as I grow this life in my belly, I find it challenging to listen to what my body is telling me. Yoga taught me that life’s not a competition, but then I channeled that competitive nature into making it a competition against myself. Now, I have to know that the person that I am today cannot be compared to the non-pregnant me nor the younger me. I will go back to who I was: strong, athletic, and competitive, after my babies are born – or maybe not. And if I never do, that’s okay.

I must learn to accept that maybe I won’t, maybe things won’t be the same ever again and ask myself, what will I think of myself then? Will I still love me, even if I “disappoint” myself? As much as life rewards aging with experience and wisdom, it also forces you to trade a few things in. I’ve watched some older women, who scrutinize every wrinkle and age spot, but fail to acknowledge the many wonderful attributes that they have gained in becoming older.

Competing with yourself may seem like a better alternative than competing with others but it’s really not that different because it too, can often lead to criticism. Criticizing and judging yourself leads to self-loathing and saying things to yourself that you would never say to others. There’s just not enough room or time in life to do that, and I must constantly remind myself that where I am and who I am right now is exactly right.

Setting higher goals and raising the bar are wonderful qualities to have but it is often a slippery slope to the misconception that perfection exists. It does not and if that’s your measuring stick, you will never be satisfied in life.

For another great read by Stephanie, visit the following link:

Anna Boom

When is the last time you hugged yourself?

In all our hard work: out running our daily workouts, logging the miles, training for the next race, when was the last time you were kind to yourself?

So many days, I find myself saying mean things about how I look or how I am running. Things I would never think, much less say, about anyone else. Have you found yourself in the same place, too?

I stumbled upon a good write up in Scientific American Mind magazine titled, Be Your Own Best Friend. It was light and easy and just what I needed to read at the moment.

Self compassion. It is treating yourself as you would treat a friend. When your girlfriend is having a rough time, would you take time out of your day to send her a kind email? Or take a moment to call her? Or even offer to go on a walk or run with her so that she can vent?

As we know, just a few words, a kind smile or a loving hug can make the difference in our day. So instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a hug, literally. That small gesture of compassion and support in a nonjudgmental way, will turn your heart around to be kind and help you achieve your goals.

Being compassionate to others is another way to promote it within yourself. When we help others, we get a jolt of feeling better about ourselves. Pretty amazing how that works, isn’t it?

Contrary to what most of us believe, self criticism may give you the opposite from motivation. Think of you as a child; did you thrive on someone yelling at you and putting you down? It’s more likely that when you were hugged and praised for trying, you would be willing to go out and try again.

The next time that mean little person pops into your head, give yourself a big hug. You can be your own Best Friend!