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Tufts University: The President's Marathon Challenge

Coach's Blog

March 20, 2009

Loose Hands ... Faster Running!!!

I've been practicing with the Tufts Marathon Team for about three weeks, and I've noticed visible improvements for my 200, 400, and 800m runs. During our last practice run, I asked Coach Don for help on proper running forms, and he told me that the most important thing, when it came to running, is to 'loosen up' and relax my hands while running. At first, I was a bit skeptical, because I believed that by tightening my muscles, I would encourage myself to run faster than if I were relaxed.

"How's this? Tighten up and contract your leg muscles" recommended the coach, "now try walking with your legs tight - it's difficult, right?"

While it made sense that walking with tightened leg muscles was difficult, I was still unclear on how clenching my fists would change the outcome of the race. As a result, during our last 3 runs, I relaxed my hands and let the wrist "flow naturally", as Don suggested, as I ran. The results shocked me! By unclenching my fist, I felt relaxed and less exhausted while channeling all of that energy into running faster. As a result, I was able to decrease my 200m run from 35 seconds to 31 seconds!

After the practice, coach Don told me that by unclenching my fist and relaxing my muscles, I saved all of that wasted energy and applied it to my speed instead. Furthermore, I was much less stressed and it made running much more enjoyable. I'm glad I learned this little secret to running faster, who knows what else I'll learn in the next two months.


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- Dan Pliskin, A86

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