By Jessica Green
When long distance runners think about track workouts some of the first things that probably come to mind include tired legs, overall fatigue, strong core, mental games and speed. Funny enough, while completing our first track workout of the season, my upper body was the first to go. Halfway through the workout, my upper back and arms were TIRED. This was a reminder of how important upper body (not just core) strength is for long distance runners.
As you run, "the arms counterbalance the motion of the legs" (opposite arm and foot move together). The swing of the arms also helps the upper body move forward so your legs aren't doing all the work. As your pace increases, your upper body work increases to keep up with your legs and your speed. As a result, you recruit more strength out of your upper body at faster speeds (this is why I felt my weakness my first track workout). Similarly, over longer distances, a strong upper body is essential as it helps maintain good running form when fatigue sets in.
To help your arms be able to keep up with your legs on the track and improve your core stability on your longer runs, add the following upper body exercises to your routine a couple times a week:
(1) Renegade Row
(2) Tricep Dips