Running style

After Sunday’s race, someone sent me a picture they had snapped as I was heading toward the finishing chute. A quick glance at it and I saw what I always see in racing pictures of me–my left hand was clenched. Not my right, though. This is something I do in races, during speed work, and toward the end of long runs. I’ve been aware of it for years and no matter how much I might try to change it–it sticks with me.

That left had refuses to relax

I think that everyone has some sort of style “quirk” that makes their stride their own. I have a friend who is a super speedy, accomplished runner. Her recognizable style–a little kick out of her right foot as she extends her hip. I’d recognize her from a long way off, I’m sure, and I can say the same for many others.

The elites do it, too. How many times have you heard people talk about Paula Radcliffe’s head bob? How about Michael Johnson’s very distinct, upright style? Sometimes these styles might not look “pretty” or “right” but clearly some people make them work.

These individual styles also have nothing to do with heel striking versus mid foot striking. My fist clenching has been there since the start, long before I changed my form and it’s clearly not going anywhere. Good or bad, (ok, probably bad!) I’m stuck with it (and maybe too lazy to try to change anymore).

What sets your running stride apart? Ever try to change it? 


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  1. says

    I think the clenched fist is fine. I have been working on my form. Often I twist at the hips and drive my arms across the median of my body….which is bad. I run more efficiently when I keep my arms to the sides and drive them forward not across. Very nice job on your race!

  2. says

    My left foot turns out while in the air and not too much that I have done seems to change it, I guess too many torn ligaments in my ankles, from when I thought I was a power forward at 5’7″ 150 pounds ;-).

    We all have little quirks when running, it is what makes us – us :-)
    Harold recently posted..Long Run Done and it Felt Good 8/20/12My Profile

  3. says

    I did a post not too long ago about running quirks. I know I do some funky things. I over-supinate terribly so in race pics it looks like I’m just landing on the outer edge of my feet. I’m trying desperately to correct it. I flip my left hand in very oddly – I think it has something to do with trying to subconsciously adjust the garmin on my arm. But who knows really.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Running Rain or Heat & Grilled Veggies with QuinoaMy Profile

  4. says

    My form used to be good and then it turned into a complete disaster. It is slowly getting better, but it is still a work in progress. I think after my awful run last night I need to youtube forefoot running again. Something that I am doing doesn’t seem right, but my coach has never said anything….hmmm. Last night I felt some odd “twinges” in my left anterior compartment that has me all freaked out right now. Finally called my coach last night and he said not to run the 5k tomorrow. I am fine with that, just panicked and feel sick that maybe I am not healed yet. UGH.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..PRO Compression *Product Review*My Profile

  5. says

    I lift my shoulders when I get tired! People have told me about it and tried to change it my whole running life. It’s just so instinctual that I doubt I’ll ever change.

    I have a friend who ran on a treadmill in front of a mirror every single day for over a year to analyze his running style and he made drastic improvements and is very happy with the change. I don’t think I have the patience for that and I doubt I’d ever have the desire!
    Jen B. recently posted..A Whole Lot of RandomnessMy Profile

  6. says

    You look fierce in that photo…clenched fist and all! I’ve noticed in race pictures that my left foot turns out after push off. I’ve always just figured it was due to the fact that I was a ballet dancer all my life before running. But I’ve wondered if this turned out foot in the air may be contributing to the little twinges I seem to constantly deal with in my left leg?
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..CIM Training Week 3My Profile

  7. says

    I’m a bouncer! Everyone says they can see me coming because of my vertical stride. My PT told me it’s been awhile since she’s seen one of me and we’re working to correct it since it’s one of the many things contributing to my injuries, so I will sadly be losing my style. If it means more efficient running and speed, I’m okay with that. :-)

  8. says

    In the Olympic marathon I was blown away by Jeptoo’s stride, seemed very awkward to me. But, this woman got the silver medal and can haul ass. Who am I to judge?

    I always stick out my left pinky for some reason. Kind of like I’m having a cup of tea. Weird.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..The Time I Ran in ParisMy Profile

  9. says

    Great job on the race! When we’re at top exertion/last gasp the body goes into whatever it takes mode.. you see it in Olympians and really a vast majority of pro athletes..suddenly form and poster deteriorate (may still be better than the rest of us but still).
    Chris Donnelly recently posted..Redefining your LifestyleMy Profile

  10. says

    I have to be honest – I love the clenched fist…it makes you, you!!! My form isn’t perfect – there’s nothing blatantly so wrong with it, but you can definitely tell me from a distance just based on how I am running =) I have thought about working on it, but I feel like I haven’t been injured yet, so why change something that isn’t broken.
    PS. Love the picture – you look awesome!
    Michele @ Nycrunningmama recently posted..Gestational DiabetesMy Profile

  11. says

    When i run I have this little weird thing, I kick my right leg back every so often. I think it may cause problems with my hip.

    I have tried to change my running from heel strike to running on the balls of my feet. It has helped a bunch and feels more natural.

  12. says

    I’m not certain but whenever I get pictures back I’m making a horrible face (not stride related) and my feet barely look off the ground. Perhaps I need to look at my stride a little closer!! Your left hand just wants to punch through the finish!!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..Word for WednesdayMy Profile

  13. says

    I do this weird thing with my left wrist. It sort of hangs funny. My daughter does the same thing funny enough. I do try to conciously hold my wrist straight especially for photos but it’s hard and I most often forget so a lot of my race photos have the limp hand/wrist thing going on!
    Robin recently posted..Amelia’s 2nd TriathlonMy Profile

  14. says

    Sometimes when I get tired or when a run gets really hard my thumbs go up.
    On both hands.
    I look like a dork, dying while giving the thumbs up sign.
    And every once and a while I kick myself. One foot hits the inside of my other ankle. Not sure, how or why but I bet it looks pretty cool. =-)
    Missy recently posted..Cinnamon Oatmeal CookiesMy Profile

  15. says

    I don’t know if anything sets my stride apart, but my husband was recognized 20 years later by one of his HS x-country teammates who knew him in a race by the way he runs. Weird, huh? They ended up going hiking together a couple of times.
    Terzah recently posted..Do You Trash Talk?My Profile

  16. says

    My quirk is I tend to lean backwards at the outset of speed and then lean forward and go. It is as if I need a reminder that I should be leaning forward.

    Other than that we will have to ask Karen what defines me in my running style. For her it is these short little steps.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Pass The SaltMy Profile

  17. says

    I don’t know of any style quirks per se (unless a slothlike pace can be considered a quirk, lol), but my palms always get hot when I run so I’m frequently shaking my hands…like waist-level jazz hands. :)
    Kate recently posted..Facing the fearMy Profile

  18. says

    Funny you mention this. My daughter ran CC in high school and won 2 awards in her jr and sr years. They took a picture each year and enlarged it and we laughed when we saw the second one because it hey almost look exactly the same. Same arm position, hand position, facial expression. I’ll tell her shes not alone :)

  19. says

    That is crazy – I know i do something similar. I always cross my left arm across my body at the end of races and/or stick my tongue into the side of my mouth. I often do the tongue thing while concentrating and apparently I did it more when I played bball in college.
    J recently posted..Triple DoubleMy Profile

  20. says

    If I’m not careful, my right food turns out slightly when I run. I try to not allow that, because it leads to hip pain for me, but I can’t seem to permanently change it. As for a running look, sometimes it is even hard to put a finger on what makes someones look distinctive. I know I can spot my husband from a long ways away by his form. He spots me by my blonde ponytail bobbing :-)
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Native Foods, I Love You. Please Come HomeMy Profile