First Ease Then Speed: Throw Your Arms And Legs Behind You As You Run

“When I run well I imagine myself to be a small sailboat skimming across the sea, whole body curved like the sail, core a flexible and responsive mast that stores and returns energy like a spring, feet cutting through the waves, heels kicking up a strong wake, and it feels great. What freedom! Creative visualization is a critical skill for body movement, especially as you age.”

“First ease then speed.”

by FitOldDog

Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

As you age you lose physical strength, however much you workout, so the trick to staying in the race is to train smarter not harder, and master all the body movement skills that you can.

Kenenisa-Bekela showing rear extension of legs and arms during intense endurance running.

Kenenisa-Bekela showing rear extension of arms and legs with upright but ‘curved’ posture, during intense endurance running.

I was talking to a friend during a bike ride the other day, excitedly telling him about my recent epiphany with respect to running. After hearing my story of improved pelvic (hip) rotation awareness, he said, “Does it make you run faster?” This a classic mistake, especially for the older athlete. “First ease then speed,” is my mantra. It is essential to learn how to stop fighting yourself, as force does not work. Speed will come in it’s own good time, but if speed is first and foremost in your mind, rather than improved biomechanical skill, injuries will arrive soon enough.

My epiphany resulted from a number of factors, which evolved from attempts to address my poor upper body running posture, observed in a photograph taken at the end of the Raleigh 2013 Half Ironman race:

FitOldDog (red) still has work to do on his running posture. Just look at those hunched shoulders! I was horrified. Photo by Randy Mews.

FitOldDog (red) still has work to do on his running posture. Just look at those hunched shoulders! I was horrified. Photo by Randy Mews.

  1. A Continuum session with Rebecca revealed (yet again!) the critical nature of my pelvic angle during walking and running, which was improved by ‘sticking my butt out a little,’ causing immediate improvement of upper body alignment, through the creation of a slight but healthy lordosis.
  2. A Feldenkrais session with Karen a few days later tackled the same issue, but Karen’s very different approach resulted in my revisiting an exercise described by Jack Heggie in his remarkable Feldenkrais-based book, Running With The Whole Body, using all sorts of gyrations of the feet combined with observing hip movement, to free up this critical relationship, which in turn modifies upper body posture – yep, the foot bone’s connected to the shoulder bone!
  3. Then a Google search led me to a great article, Improve Your Walking And Running With Pelvic Rotation, by Danny Dryer, of Chi Running Fame, the exercises in which I put to the test, using my new ‘pelvic awareness,’ and abracadabra, my running was instantly transformed from a struggle to a feeling of gliding.

Take a look at the article, read Jack Heggie’s book, consider a Feldenkrais or Continuum session, do the necessary work/play, think about pelvic angle and rotation, then  build a mental image to improve your running.

Now we will see what happens to my running pace as I integrate this change of style into my run. Plenty of time to let that happen, as I’m only 70 years old for heavens sake. Still a kid.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Anita Casey says

    Holy cow! I tried the techniques of ChiRunning today when I did my 5k on the treadmill. I felt that ease of stride you’re talking about, and my heartbeat was about 10 beats per minute slower after the run. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Hi Anita, Yep! Holy cow, indeed! The perfect stride is out there. I learn a little more as I go along, knowing that running should feel like floating, not a pain. Chi Running is a great place to start, then try working from there to find what works best for you. Happy Trails, Kevin

  3. I always loved, and sought, that floating feeling back when I ran. This is good info for whatever we are doing. I see so many ‘old’ folks (no idea of their age) hunched over, stiff, barely moving.

    • Hi Marsha, I wrote my latest blog post (about MELT) in response to your comment. They are very effective marketers, selling something that has been around for years as if it’s new, but they are actually reaching people, which the mainstream Body Movement Therapy people, including Rebecca and I, have real trouble achieving. Thanks again for your encouragement, it’s needed some days, when it feels as though I am dropping my chatter down a deep dark hole in the ground. Cheers, Kevin

  4. Hi Marsha, that floating feeling can be found, but it takes perfect posture, quality running technique, and a degree of fitness. When it strikes it feels literally as if I’m floating, and it’s not the old runner’s high that I have only experienced in runs exceeding 20 miles. I hate to see people struggling around, having no idea that with a little body movement training their whole life could be transformed. You don’t have to do the Ironman to optimize your motion. Thanks for commenting, as I always appreciate it. Cheers, kevin aka FitOldDog

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.