walking form question

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Chris Smith, Sep 14, 2003.

  1. Chris Smith

    Chris Smith Guest

    During my recent first-ever ultra, as you may imagine I had a lot of time to think. This is always
    dangerous. But anyway, here's a question I pondered and about which I would like some comment:

    When walking moderately fast, as often happens in ultras except for the leading aliens who compete
    at what seem to me freakishly high rates of speed, is there any benefit to a particular arm-swing
    form? In my limited trail and uphill walking training, and in the ultra run, I focused on a simple
    interpretation of Ozzie's and other people's admonitions to keep "good form" when slowing to a walk
    during a run. But for me this mainly translated to consistent striding and push-offs, walking a
    straight line, good posture, etc. But as for arm swinging while walking....I saw one person doing
    serious speed-walking form at least in the early stages, with arms held relatively high as if
    running, but others with full, extended arm swings of varying arc length. I was vaguely aware of
    "reaching" or extending arm swings further forward of my torso when "pulling" up the steeper
    inclines, but otherwise just let the arms swing where they wanted to go. What's the physics and
    recommended form here? It seemed unduly stressful or energy-burning to hold forearms "up" at all. A
    related comment is that doing an ultra has helped me understand even better how truly funny is the
    old "real runner" or "runner vs. jogger" discussion that pops up now and then. Sometimes a 15-minute
    mile can be a triumph, other times you get to "really" move through space and time faster. But
    everybody, walking or running, seems like a very real competitor--except for those aliens I
    mentioned above. Cheers. chris
     
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  2. Doug Freese

    Doug Freese Guest

    Chris Smith wrote:
    > During my recent first-ever ultra, as you may imagine I had a lot of time to think. This is always
    > dangerous.

    Once you get a few more of these under your belt ;) you will master the art of zoning out. Have you
    ever driven a car for some period of time and suddenly realized you don't remember the last N miles
    or if you can over someone's dog? This is also common with runners specially early in a race when
    running comfortably and alone. with a loop course such as Umstead I would assume you were seldom
    ever alone. I can't play with the big boys but I'm faster than many and often end up in no man's
    land where I run alone only to be awakened by dim of an aid station.

    > When walking moderately fast, as often happens in ultras except for the leading aliens who
    > compete at what seem to me freakishly high rates of speed, is there any benefit to a particular
    > arm-swing form?

    First off, since walking or what I like to call power hiking is a necessity for these races I often
    hike the hell out steep hills to get my hiking muscles conditioned as running and hiking muscles are
    not the same. As for arm swing, I do very little movement. In fact I often use the uphills to rest
    my arms and just let them hang loosely when I'm not drinking or eating. Trying to keep your arms in
    a running "position" for the entire race will take it's toll on your arms and shoulders and you
    energy supply.

    The rest of my body is maintaining good form - upright posture (leaning into a hill as many do is
    very inefficient) but loose relaxed arms.

    --
    Caveat Lector "the further you go outside, the further you go inside" - B. McKibben Doug Freese
    [email protected]
     
  3. Chris Smith

    Chris Smith Guest

    Doug Freese wrote:

    > Chris Smith wrote:
    > > During my recent first-ever ultra, as you may imagine I had a lot of time to think. This is
    > > always dangerous.
    >
    > Once you get a few more of these under your belt ;) you will master the art of zoning out. Have
    > you ever driven a car for some period of time and suddenly realized you don't remember the last N
    > miles or if you can over someone's dog? This is also common with runners specially early in a race
    > when running comfortably and alone. with a loop course such as Umstead I would assume you were
    > seldom ever alone. I can't play with the big boys but I'm faster than many and often end up in no
    > man's land where I run alone only to be awakened by dim of an aid station.

    I would say I was alone on the Umstead course about 80 percent of the time. There were a few times
    when one or more runners were moving at a similar pace and it was interesting to meet them and talk
    for a few minutes. But I generally am something of a hermit anyway, so even in a half or full
    marathon I tend to get into open spaces between other runners and just do a version of that zoning
    out you mentioned. If you think about it, with 200 runners at Umstead and a 10 mile loop, that's an
    average of just 2 people in a tenth of each mile, and when you figure the clusters at the two major
    aid/food stations and twists and turns of the course, it's not that uncommon to be on a stretch of
    the trail and see no one ahead or behind you at all. As much as I was entertained by some of the
    ultra camaraderie, I prefer solitude anyway. Thanks for the arm form thoughts, that makes sense.

    Chris
     
  4. Chris Smith <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > What's the physics and recommended form here? It seemed unduly stressful or energy-burning to hold
    > forearms "up" at all.

    Chris, Practice walking during training and try different techniques. And I don't mean take walking
    breaks during your run but rather do a 2-3 hour "walk" instead of a run, preferably the day after a
    long run so you'll be tired like you are in race when you're walking. Some folks find arm swinging
    helps them maintain form/rhythm. Others find it tiring. Some folks like to put their hands on their
    quads when climbing. There are lots of different techniques and you just have to find the one that
    optimizes speed/rest for you.

    - The Trailrunner
     
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