May 8, 2011 12:23 PM   Subscribe

What do you do with your hands when you run? And does that change depending on how far and over what terrain you are running?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You move them.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:46 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: I make very loose fists. If you're clenching them, touch the tips of your thumb and index finger, and imagine there's a potato chip in the gap that you don't want to break.
posted by djb at 12:47 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: I was taught by my runner father to run more or less as if I'm holding invisible cross-country skiing poles. Lower arm at right angle to upper, elbows close to sides. If nothing else, focusing on the form of my arms is a nice distraction.
posted by quiet coyote at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Keep your elbows bent and don't let your hands cross the middle of your body, or you're wasting too much energy swinging your arms back and forth. Don't clamp them to your sides, either, let 'em swing a little. Like djb says, loose fists. I imagine I am making GI Joe hands, if I notice I'm clenching (you know how GI Joe's hands are kind of curved, slightly open, so you and put the little plastic guns in their grip? Like that).
posted by santaslittlehelper at 1:18 PM on May 8, 2011

And, no, it does not change depending on terrain or distance. The only thing that changes is how much time I have to think about what my hands are doing.
posted by santaslittlehelper at 1:19 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: When I run with my iPod, I usually just hold it in my hand with a loose grip (the iPod in one hand and the earphones wire in my other - with enough room for slack for arm movement). During races, when you cannot use an iPod, I have loosely held onto a rubber band or a twisty tie in my fingers, to keep from clenching my hands. And it also gives my fingers/hands something to do without using a lot of extra energy. And these are usually for shorter distances (5 - 10k).
posted by foxhat10 at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2011

I run just like djb says, except, if its very cold, I clench my fist on my thumb to keep it warm, or, if I'm sprinting, when my hands are straight out - kind of like a karate chop position.
posted by prentiz at 3:07 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: I was taught by my track coach in high school to pretend you're holding a potato chip between your thumb and forefinger. Just enough pressure so it would stay there without breaking. This has always worked for me as a way to keep my hands and arms loose but firm while running.
posted by auto-correct at 3:29 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Whether you hands cross your body is a result of balance and mechanics that aren't necessarily inefficient to allow. I think the marathoner Bill Rodgers had an "eggbeater" motion in one arm.

Keep your hands from flapping. The easiest way is to keep them as fists, loose, with thumb on top. When I'm sprinting or running up hills fast (running on my toes) I find I make karate-chop type hands (warning, IANA Karateka).
posted by zippy at 3:55 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think it depends also on the temperature. If it's cold out and I have bare hands, I switch between the thumb-in fist with the thumb-out fist. Once the outside fingers get too cold, it's time for a swap.
posted by Metro Gnome at 4:03 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Nth-ing the potato chip business. Elbows close to your body. You move your arms but not that much, just as much as you need to. When it gets toward the end of the race, I think of using my arms to pull me to the finish but that's just mental. The other thing is when I'm running far or when I think that I'm tensing up, I'll shake it out a little and shake my wrists to stay loose.
posted by kat518 at 5:59 PM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: Towards the beginning of a run, while I'm still working out the kinks, I:

focus on letting my thumbs brush my running shorts while focusing on consistent form.

let my hands do something between being limp, and acting as air "paddles," so that they act as a component of the holistic lever action of the shoulder/elbow/wrist structure.

manipulate my fingers as if from muscle-memory, and "play" specific piano pieces. I do this when in a good mood.

"type" my thoughts, while I also slowly articulate them under my breath. This is usually at the beginning of a run when for some reason I have nervous energy (often after an exciting experience or after too much coffee).

clench fists or pick fingernails. I do these things when I'm stressed.

My favorite though is when relax, let the brain turn itself off and just run. It's the most fun and probably also the fastest.
posted by L'oeuvre Child at 2:31 AM on May 9, 2011

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