Running form and staying hydrated

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I’d like to focus on a couple specific topics this week. Two things that I’ve stated frequently at least to certain individuals but I’m not sure I have laid out my points publicly.

Running form

We all know there’s been a lot of talk about foot plant (I hate the term "foot strike" but that’s for another day) in recent years. In short, we’ve been told to focus on landing mid-foot or even forefoot. However, is this where the focus should be?

As some of you I’m sure have heard me say before, I believe we should focus higher. My usual mantra: hips forward, chest up and forward, shoulders low and back. I break this down in the following way:

Hips: You should keep your hips so far forward that it feels like, if you shifted them any farther forward, you would fall on your face.

Chest: Imagine you have a harness hooked up to your chest pulling up and forward at a 45 degree angle from horizontal.

Shoulders: Don’t hunch over like you’re typing on your computer, keep them back. However, also don’t tense them up. Keep them low and relaxed. Sometimes I also say thumbs up. Rotating your forearms so your thumbs are up will help rotate your shoulders to a less hunched over position.

Why am I bringing all of this up? Because Jonathan Beverly discussed the hips part, along with a lot of other good form thoughts, at Runner’s World.

A lot of good stuff about hip and upper body positioning in there. I’m not going to quote any single thing. Just read it all.

Staying hydrated

I’ve long been on the losing side of a debate over hydration. I feel there is way too much focus on hydration. Not that we don’t need to hydrate but we don’t need to replace every drop of fluid we lose the moment we lose it. I remember around 10 years ago someone telling me with great pride how he normally finishes marathons weighing more than when he starts. Really? This is something to be proud of? This is a great accomplishment? How is this going to make me a faster runner?

Well, if you’re into it, here’s the key to hyperhydration: salt.

However, is such a significant focus on hydration really beneficial?

Even when the cyclists were dehydrated by 3 per cent of their body weight, their performance was unaffected, contradicting decades of warnings that dehydration of more than 2 per cent slows you down.

Combined with plenty of information on how elites tend to lose a higher percentage of their body weight than non-elites (some upwards of 5% body weight) during marathons, this should be telling us something. Maybe we don’t need to focus on hydration quite as much as we’ve been led to believe.

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