By Tony Zhang
During the time I practiced with the Tufts Marathon Team, for about three weeks, I noticed visible improvements for my 200, 400, and 800m runs. At one of the practices, I asked Coach Don Megerle for help on proper running form. He said the most important thing is to ‘loosen up’ and relax my hands while running. At first I was a bit skeptical because I believed that by tightening my muscles, I would encourage myself to run faster than if I were relaxed.
To demonstrate this concept, Coach Don said “How’s this? Tighten up and contract your leg muscles. Now try walking with your legs tight. It’s very difficult, right?”
While it made sense that walking with tightened leg muscles was difficult, I was still unclear on how clenching my fists would change the outcome of the race. As a result, during our last three runs, I relaxed my hands and let the wrists “flow naturally,” as Don suggested. The results shocked me! By unclenching my fists, I felt relaxed and less exhausted while channeling all of that energy into running faster. As a result, I was able to decrease my 200 meter run time from 35 seconds to 31 seconds!
After the practice, Coach Don told me that by unclenching my fists and relaxing my muscles, I saved all of that wasted energy and applied it to my speed instead. Furthermore, I was much less stressed and it made running much more enjoyable. I’m glad I learned this little secret to running faster. Who knows what else I’ll learn in the next two months?