I wish I was the kind of person that was born a natural runner. You know, those people who make running look effortless and enjoyable. The ones with perfect form who look like they’re floating along. The ones who run fast without breaking a sweat and blow by me on the trail. The ones who can carry on a conversation and smile when they run. But I’m not that person.
When I run, I constantly go through a mental checklist in my mind: Take shorter strides, don’t cross your arms, stop moving your upper body so much, don’t clomp your feet, breathe, stop clenching your jaw, stand up straight, smile.
As I run more and more, the things on my mental checklist seem to become more natural and I don’t have to remind myself to do them quite so often. I still have a ways to go, but little by little I am making a TON of progress in my running and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment of my 6 mile run the other day… hills and all. Maybe it was my Huma gel, but I felt like my hard work is finally paying off.
But then there’s my posture.
My posture is the one thing that I never seem to be able to cross off my checklist. Here’s Davey’s take on it:
“The thing is, Jess has great running form and posture… for about the first half of our run. Then, almost as in slow motion, her head starts to sink forward and her shoulders slowly crumple over until she looks like a skinny, beautiful version of Quasimotto, the hunchback of Notre Dame.”
I have to be honest, while I really do want to run more efficiently, I’m actually more motivated to improve my posture by the fact that I want to look good in my triathlon and marathon photos. And you know what? I say, do whatever it takes to motivate yourself.
For awhile I justified my poor running form by calling it “Chi running”. Only instead of leaning forward from my ankles as Chi running teaches, I hinged at my hips and that’s definitely not very “Chi”.
Since I’ll be logging quite a few miles training for both my triathlons and my first marathon, I asked Davey to create a strength training workout that will help improve my running posture.
This is not only an awesome strength training workout for runners, but also for triathletes because it is challenging to run with good posture after being crouched over on your bike.
The following exercises are some excellent moves to shape up your running form – which will only make you faster, more efficient, and less prone to injury. Or at least you’ll look and feel better!
Two-Arm Bent Over Row
Upper body staple move, good for core strength and stability.
Grab some fairly heavy dumbbells in both hands and hinge forward at the waist. Since you are not supporting your upper body, you’ll feel your hamstrings, lower back, and core stabilizing. Keep the natural curve in your lower back, and lock in this position.
With this row, you’ll keep you thumbs turned out (palms up to emphasize helping shoulder blade position). Now focus on using the muscles in your upper back to squeeze your shoulder girdle toward the sky. Do 15 reps
Stability Ball Super Man’s (with supinated palms)
Gets every upper body muscle to cooperate as you hold good upright form. This move is also great for swimming.
Find a comfortable balance with your belly on the stability ball and feet on the floor. (You can prop your foot up against a wall if you keep sliding off your ball).
Extend your arms in front of your body and turn your palms up. With locked elbows lift up and rotate your shoulders back as far as you can to feel a squeeze. Lower your body, hinging at your waist in one smooth motion. Do 15-20 reps.
W’s (External Shoulder Rotations)
Very helpful in strengthening often-neglected rotator cuff muscles.
A resistance band makes this triathlon posture exercise slightly more effective, but you can do it just fine without… With elbows at a 90 and palms up (like you’re holding a cake), rotate your upper arm to press and hold your hands backward. Hold for one second and then release. Do 10 reps.
Bird Dogs (Modified Version)
This is the all-in-one exercise to work the posterior side of the hips, back, core, and shoulder muscles – all essential for triathlon techniques.
Starting position is similar to the bird dog core strengthening exercise, but we’ll be focused on keeping your arms and legs straight instead of bent. That way, the movement is targeting more of the muscles in and around your core to get a more specific benefit for improved running posture. Do 10 reps on each side.
There’s no school like old school, so let’s bring it back from gym class. This old-fashioned callisthenic exercise puts it all together for good running posture.
Stand in a star position to start. Reach down with one arm across your body toward your toe. Keep your other arm pressed backward during this Think about hinging with your hips to return upright. At the top, press your arm backwards to flex your shoulder and upper back muscles. Do 10 reps on each side.
Core Exercise – Wipers
I’m throwing in this triathlon exercise to round out the other exercises in this routine. Your obliques stabilize your core and spine from the sides, so we don’t want to neglect them because they assist with providing support for good posture, as well.
Start this one on the floor in reverse crunch position with your knees raised, hips at a 90, and your arms extended outward to stabilize. Rotate your torso to drop your legs to the one side, going as low as you comfortably can. Flex your abs to return to the center, then twist to the other side. Do 10 to 12 reps on each side.