So you want to be able to run faster? Then you have to practice running fast! Here are 12 ways to have a stronger, faster workout. Who knows…maybe you’ll even set a new PR!
1) Use Proper Running Form–You must be able to run correctly, which is the key to running at any speed. Keep the upper body tall, yet relaxed. Land on the mid-foot with knees slightly bent and drawing the arms back at close to 90 degrees. Drive your heel toward your butt on your follow-through. Step with your foot landing under your hip. Steps should be soft and springy–gravity and a slight forward lean create forward propulsion. Make sure that you ease into this form…the body takes time to adapt.
2) Stride Correctly–Ever wonder why you see so many runners before a race doing short sprints? They’re actually doing striders, a series of usually 8-12 comfortable sprints between 50 and 200 meters each. These are designed to improve acceleration technique.
3) Get High, Get Low–Pushed for time? Try doing some speed training. Alternate periods of high intensity and low intensity while exercising, also called interval training. This is just one way to build up your speed and endurance, as well as burning more calories in less time.
4) Count Your Steps–Heard of the phrase stride turnover? It’s the rate of steps taken while running (regardless of speed). The fastest, most efficient runners have a cadence of close to 180 steps per minute, keeping their feet low to the ground with soft, springy steps. In order to find your stride turnover, count the number of times your right foot hits the ground in 1 minute, then multiply by 2.
5) Set The Pace–A great way to work on speed is to alternate between jogging and sprinting. This will not only help with speed but with endurance as well. You can vary the order of when to switch things up so it doesn’t get boring.
6) Try Running On A Treadmill–It’s easier to run faster on a treadmill because the belt assists with leg turnover. Also, the power to increase your pace is right at your fingertips.
7) Stretch Before And After Your Running Workout–Not sure whether static or dynamic stretching is optimal before or after your workout? Check out my previous blog article that addresses the correct times for both types of stretching.
8) Do Core Work–It’s no secret…if you want to be fast, you have to be fit! Core strengthening (especially the lower abs) allows runners to tap into more force and speed out on the road. And the good news? Only 15 minutes of core work several times a week is enough to increase speed.
9) Breathe!–Something we certainly take for granted, since we do it subconsciously on a daily basis! But learning how to breathe correctly by using both our nose and mouth while inhaling and exhaling to get the maximum amount of oxygen to the muscles takes practice, especially at faster speeds.
10) Jump Rope–Ever see a boxer train by jumping rope? I’m sure most of us have. Because boxers know that fast feet means fast hands. So with runners? Well, in the case of runners, fast feet actually means fast feet!
11) Lighten The Load–Running shoes are getting lighter and lighter to mimic the foot’s natural movement and improve stride. While barefoot running might not be for you, try a minimalist pair of running shoes to determine if less weight means more energy for faster feet.
12) Cut Out Sweets–We know that junk foods give us a sugar high, but they also slow us down. Best to stick with pasta and whole grains instead, which provide long-lasting energy without the inevitable crash!
There you go with some ideas on how to increase your running speed. And as always, if you or someone you know is having pain with running, don’t wait to take action. Call my office at once at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute consultation to see how Physical Therapy can help. Don’t delay–schedule now!