Increasing your running speed should be on your top priority list whether you have just signed for your first 5K, or looking to improve your marathon time.
Therefore, today I’m going to share with you some creative and awesome training guidelines to help you improve your running speed without logging in more miles.
Image Credit – Christian Sarbach via Flickr.
1. Strength Train
A runner’s oriented strength training routine will help you strengthen key muscle groups for fast, and injury free running.
The stronger your leg muscles are, the more force you can generate and absorb. You will also need a strong upper body to keep your straight and running tall, another element of speed running that can help you improve speed.
A strong core is key as well. Strong core muscles—upper and lower abs, obliques and glutes—can improve your running performance and economy by helping you tap into more force on the road while cutting the amount of energy your body loses through lax muscles and joints.
I have written extensively about strength training as means of preventing injury as well as improving speed.
So if you are serious about becoming the best runner you can be, I urge to check these five excellent runners-oriented strength workouts.
Here are five exercises to add to your training arsenal:
2. Sprint it Out
This is a no brainer. To run faster, you just need to practice running faster.
Sprints, short bursts of maximum speed running, can boost your stride power and running economy, helping you run faster regardless of your distance, whether It’s a 5K or a marathon.
Get on track and do the following.
Start with a 10-minute warm-up of slow jogging, followed by dynamic moves and a few strideouts to get your body ready for the speed ahead.
Next, perform at least 10 sprints, lasting 10 to 15 seconds a piece, at the fastest pace you can crank out.
Make sure to take at least one minute of recovery between each sprint.
Finish off the workout with a 10-minute cool down. Jog slowly and stretch your muscles afterward.
For more interval training workout for runners, check my post here.
3. Drill Training
Drills are another thing you can do to improve running form and speed. Speed drills can improve your running form and efficiency as well as boost your stride cadence and running speed. Two birds with one stone.
There are plenty of drills you can add to your training program. Here are some of my favorites:
4. Embrace the Hills
Study shows that doing even one hill repeat a week (and in most cases that’s enough) can help you build muscles strength, boost speed and increase you running efficiency overall without the added risk of injury.
There are a lot of ways to incorporate hill training into your program, but the best way to help you improve speed is the short uphill sprints. Think of them as the advanced version of the classic sprints.
Here is the hill repeats workout you need for speed:
Find a short hill that should take you no more than 30 to 45 seconds to run up and has an inclination between 7 and 15 degrees gradient.
Next, after a thorough warm-up, run up the hill as fast as you can. Focus on a high knee lift and vigorous arm drive to achieve maximum speed. Make sure your effort is anaerobic, shoot for an all-out effort.
Then, jog slowly down to recover, then repeat the process for 15 to 20 minutes.
Finish off the session with a decent cool-down.
5. Plyometric Training
Running is actually a form of jumping if you think about it for a moment. Good news is there is whole training program revolving around jumping, and it’s known as plyometric training or explosive training.
Plyometric training can boost up your endurance, agility, and speed through explosive power movement. Study shows that doing plyometric training can help you improve your running economy as well as efficiency and running speed.
In case you don’t have time for a full plyo session, then try doing three to four plyometric drills after completing an easy run or add 10 to 15 minutes of jump exercises to your regular strength training workouts.
Here are 5 great plyometric drills to add to your cross-training workout routines:
Also, make sure to workout with the right gear and equipment, especialy a steady jump box. The Wood Plyo Box I discovered while doing CrossFit is my favorite. You can get it here. Yes, it’s a bit expenside but it’s a worthy long term investment.
6. Proper Running Form for Speed
Good form is vital for injury free running and speed. Proper running form is both economical and efficient. Therefore, to make the most out of it, do your best to improve it.
Here are few pointers to help you develop it:
- Keep your upper body tall the entire time. Run as tall as you can. You can imagine there is a thread pulling the top of your head upwards.
- Keep your body relaxed the entire time, especially your hands, arms, shoulder, and neck. Tightness in these areas will only waste your energy and hold you back.
- Land on the middle of your feet under the hip, and swing your arms forward and back at low-degree angles, just like sprinters do.
- Use your whole body to produce the momentum you need to propel you forward as fast you can.
- Focus on getting your feet to land underneath your body, not ahead of it. And avoid heel strike at all time.
- If you have any weakness in your form, then make sure to address with strength exercises or drills at least once a week. Fix your broken chains.
Serious about improving your running form? Then check my full guide here.
Or go one step further and give the Pose Method a shot. One of the best sources, maybe the only book you’ll ever need on the subject, is “The Running Revolution” by Nicholas Romanov. Here is the link to buy it.
Featured image Credit – Robb Hammer via Flickr.