Running Speed Hack

By Jae Gruenke | Running Performance

Apr 25

Here’s a simple trick you can do to pick up the pace, especially when you want to run faster but your body just somehow isn’t responding.

I’m not a big fan of tricks and hacks. I want you to learn deeply and be transformed. But tricks do have their place, especially for a runner committed to skill development.

This trick pulls back the curtains for a moment on how your movement needs to change to produce more speed. That revelation won’t necessarily last–you’ll go back to running your old way pretty quickly–but it can give you an understanding of what to work towards so you can run that way whenever you want.

I call it the Hands On Hips Hack. Here’s how to do it:

  1. As you run, put your hands on the outsides of your hips with your thumbs in front and the rest of your fingers pointing backwards. This is the opposite of how you put your hands on your hips if you’re mad at someone–that version is with thumbs behind and fingers in front. Also, you’ll need to put your hands a little lower than in the “mad” version, below your waist so your thumbs are on your hip flexors and your fingers are on your glutes.
  2. Notice how your body adjusts and go with it. You’ll feel this arm position rolls your shoulders forward and tips your whole body into a much more pronounced forward lean. Your upper body will start turning much more than before, and you’ll feel your shoulders move opposite your legs, helping you balance. You’ll feel that your pelvis is moving. You’ll move forward on your feet and your stride will lengthen. You’ll speed up.
  3. Relax your head, jaw, and neck so your head can bounce and rock from side to side.
  4. Once you’ve gotten into this groove, take your hands back off your hips, bring them to your heart (to your midline, nearly touching your body). Begin to swing your arms from your heart to your sides along your ribs along whatever groove feels natural. Let your head movement decrease so it becomes more subtle. You should feel your speed increase a little bit more.
  5. Shortly your speed will begin to drop again, as you return to your old way of running. Take advantage of this brief window to feel and intentionally continue to run in this faster way. Can you keep your head and neck relaxed? Can you keep your forward lean? Can you keep your upper body and your pelvis free to move?

The way you run in the moments after you take your hands off your hips is a way you can learn to run without ever using this hack. You can learn it and own it. Read on for how to do that.

How you use the Hands On Hips Hack depends on your level of experience with The Balanced Runner principles:

  • Have you already done the work of learning how to run this way? Then use this trick once or twice on a run when you’re just feeling slow for some mysterious reason to reconnect with what you know.
  • Is this way of running is new to you? Then don’t use this trick too often. Your body and nervous system aren’t adapted to running that way, and there’s a very real possibility you’ll overdo it. Experiment with the hack and use it occasionally, but move on to do some real learning to see your running improve.
  • Is this way of running is completely, utterly new to you? Does it seem to break all the rules you’ve ever heard for how you’re supposed to move when you run? Then you, my friend, have the potential to run much faster.

Get an introduction to the principles behind the hack by doing my free Mind Your Running Challenge or dive into learning through my online camp. Here’s the link to the challenge:

The Mind Your Running Challenge

I plan to make a video of Hands On Hips Hack, so please give it a try and leave a comment letting me know how it goes and what questions you have. That way I can make sure the video covers all the bases.

Have fun!

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About the Author

Jae Gruenke, GCFP, is a running technique expert and Feldenkrais Practitioner. Known as a “running form guru,” she is the Founder and CEO of The Balanced Runner™ in New York City and The Balanced Runner UK. She has helped runners from beginner to Olympian improve their form to become pain-free, economical, and fast.

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(4) comments

Shiela Arsenault April 25, 2021

Interesting information,
I starting running again a few years ago & I am 64 & really enjoy doing half marathons & have recently did 2.I would like to increase my time but wonder if my age is holding me back.
I do a gym workout 4 days a week also,core,step,weights,& cycle class & would like your ideas on gels & such from gnc or other products.My average time is around 11:30 per mile.

Reply
    Jae Gruenke April 29, 2021

    Shiela, I recommend you consult a local coach for questions about gels and fueling. I actually only help people with their running form, so I’m not the kind of expert you’re looking for. I wouldn’t worry about your age, though–just focus on enjoying the process!

    Reply
Michael Luckett April 25, 2021

Nice technique!
Thanks!

Reply
    Jae Gruenke April 29, 2021

    Glad you like it, Michael!

    Reply
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