Do You Relax When You Run?

Half of my daily workout is running up and down the stairs in my 3-story building. Our neighbors have never mentioned it; the stairs don’t overlap with their condos, so hopefully they can’t hear me.

I try to relax when I run stairs. Relax my body, relax my mind. I want to get my heart rate up, but I also want to destress.

I sprinted in high school–I couldn’t stand long distances, but I loved to fly on the track or on the soccer field. I’m not sure if I was relaxed at the time. I doubt it.

This was on my mind recently when I listened to the first episode of a new Pushkin podcast called Legacy of Speed, which I highly recommend. As coach Bud Winter discovered (or at least popularized) in the 1960s, sprinting while relaxed is considerable more effective than tensing up. Something about getting more oxygen to your muscles.

He’d test this theory with his sprinters by having them run a few times the old-school way, all tensed up, then soon after with the relaxation technique. Their splits were always better when they relaxed their faces, hands, and legs.

Interesting to me is that I’d never heard this before. Apparently it is THE key to being a successful sprinter, but no coach ever mentioned it to me, nor have I heard Olympic announcers mention it. So maybe it isn’t as well known as I thought. Had you heard of it? Do you relax when you run?

2 thoughts on “Do You Relax When You Run?”

  1. I ran track in HS and College. Mike runner back in the day. I used to sprint but found that I was fastest from the blocks to the first 60 yards, then the much taller guys got unwound and would pass me the last 40. So I moved up to the 430, then 880, mile, and cross country. I was better at long runs as I relaxed (as you say). Thru all of them no coach ever mentioned relaxing. But it does make sense. Tension burns energy. I remember in LD running I would not even drive my arms except in the last lap (or run to the tape). Otherwise I kept my arms and entire body as relaxed as possible to save energy.

  2. Jamey,

    I am definitely more relaxed after I run, but it’s not a word that I would use to describe the activity. I do spend time singing and praying. Interestingly enough, five memorized songs from the Broadway production Hamilton and saying one rosary (for your Catholic readers, they’ll know what that entails, but suffice it to say it’s the recitation of a series of prayers in a very specific order…five times) will get me to the 5-mile mark. That’s the most I do these days and it’s a beautiful run. If you find yourself in Philly with some free time, let me show you the run which will take you from Philadelphia to Camden, NJ over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and back…and then down past Independence Hall and around a few notable buildings before ending at the Federal Building where I work.



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