Once you get into the habit of running regularly, you may want to focus on increasing your stamina and running speed.
Learning how to increase your running speed involves trying out and combining a number of strategies until you find what is right for you.
Running speed is based on a number of factors. These include current fitness levels and genetics.
To increase your running speed we need to work on fitness levels.
An important thing to remember is to enjoy the journey towards your goal while patiently and consistently focusing on your aim
Why should you increase your running speed?
Not only will it give you good health benefits but apart from that it will help you in running competitions, marathon, etc.
Also Read: Marathon Training for Beginners (A Detailed Guide)
It increases self-confidence as there is a great sense of accomplishment.
Going faster and further each time also makes it a fun activity (especially if you’re running with others).
The small victories will help your self-esteem and will help you to mold yourself to a better athlete and to a fitter, lighter, and stronger person.
Ways to Increase Your Running Speed
In this article, I will cover a few techniques that you can use to increase your running speed.
Increase your mileage each week.
According to Greg Grosicki, an assistant professor at Georgia southern university, gradual and consistent training enhances performance. Take a few short runs each week and take a long run in the weekend.
Listen to your body and gradually increase mileage. If some days you are feeling better prolong the distance and other days if your body feels not up to it, make it a rest day.
It is important to have at least one or two rest days in between hard training workouts.
Also, as you train yourself to increase your running speed, overload the body gradually. Let it adapt then overload a little bit more. Increase five minutes to the normal time you run every week.
If five minutes seem a lot, start with one minute.
Interval running/ speed play
Add speed to your long runs.
You can achieve this by doing Tempo runs where you run fast for shorter durations.
Another way is interval running where one runs at high intensity for short durations and then run slow for a long duration. You can also add speed to the last of each mile you cover.
This is called a fartlek workout. Another way is to run for one minute and rest ( slower comfortable pace) for 2 minutes. Repeat.
Repetitions will force the body to absorb more oxygen.
Do it consistently for a few weeks then gradually decrease the rest periods.
As you do this you will increase the oxygen capacity of the blood. The more oxygen, the faster you will run!
Maintain a record
Make a schedule and mix these speed workouts for fun.
Keep a record and be your own judge.
With the written data of time and distance and pace, it will be easy to analyze and improve. Tracking your progress will keep one motivated. Be patient and celebrate small victories.
Purchase a stopwatch or download apps available for tracking or use a fitness band. It is also a good idea to run on a track so the distance covered can be known.
Strength training exercises
According to Jay Dicharry, director of a speed clinic at the University of Virginia, explosive movements help activate muscle power. This causes an increase in speed and more power to the stride.
According to Michael Yessis, years of studying elite runners in freeze frame video clips have revealed that runners can benefit from exercises that duplicate the distinct joint and leg movement, as well as the range of motion of athletes.
Strength training builds core strength. The best part is just 15 minutes of core workout, a few days in a week is sufficient to help one speed up.
Strength training for runners can include squatting with dumbbells, planks, push-ups, Plyometrics, broad jumps, ball jumps, ledge jumps, box jumps, resistance training, and bicycle intervals.
Squats can be performed with weights like adjustable dumbbells, with a bench or a ledge called Bulgarian split squat. Even more beneficial is a single leg squat. This can be performed while holding onto something like rope for balance. Go as low as you can while keeping one leg as straight as you can and then stand up.
You can also practice planks on a mat. Lie down on the stomach. Put hands underneath your shoulders. Then raise your body with the help of arms. Keep neck and back straight. Hold and then rest.
Do push-ups on the mat. Lie on the mat. Palm facing downward. Hands next to armpits. Raise your body slowly to a plank position. Once the arms are extended, lower yourself again till chest is just above the mat. Raise your body again.
Plyometrics is essentially jump training. These are exercises that are going to teach your muscles to put out maximum force in a small amount of time with the goal of increasing power speed. One can jump at a slide angle alternating feet and pushing off as soon as he/she hits the ground. One can do this one leg as well.
One more powerful strength training exercise are broad jumps. Not only will they affect speed but also improve vertical jumps. Start with both legs at hip distance apart. Bend and jump forwards as far as you are able.
Do ball jumps as they require a balance between speed and vertical jumps. The second you hit the ground, you go back up into the air.
Box jumps or ledge jumps also improve speed. Use alternate legs one at the time. This is mimicking a sprint and will result in better speed.
Squat jumps are basically when a person squats and then jumps and he/she can twist mid-air as well while jumping.
Resistance training is equally important. Tie a resistance band to your feet and hook the band to a cord and tie it to a fixed object like a pole. Stand at a distance and mimic running standing by pushing one foot forward then backward. Do on one foot. Raise your arms as well in a running position. Then tie the band on other feet and repeat.
Alternatively, you can put an elastic band around your ankles and mimic running with one leg up and down and then alternating with another leg up and down.
Resistance training can also be done on a treadmill or through running up a hill.
According to Tom millers at the University of Utah, bicycle intervals increase speed. First, warm up on a stationary bike at low tension. Then gradually increase the tension. Then do high power pedaling bursts for 30, 45, 60, 45,30 seconds. In between the high power pedaling bursts, lower the tension for recovery spells.
It was found that all the runners using this method a couple of time a week for six weeks increased their speeds.
Recent studies have shown that stretching programmes can significantly influence the viscosity of the tendon and make significantly more compliant. This helps to prevent injury.
Running involves compliance from muscle-tendon unit to store and release a high amount of elastic energy. Stretching helps to achieve that compliance.
You can do dynamic stretches before the run and static stretches after the run. Dynamic stretches activate and loosen up the leg muscles for the run. Static stretches at the end of the run can bring down the heart rate and lessen muscle soreness.
How to do Dynamic stretching?
Hold on to a sturdy object like wall or chair and stand on one leg and swing the other leg forward and back.
Apply a full range of motion as much as you can comfortably swing. Repeat with another leg. This is called hip flexor and glute activating leg swing.
Another way of dynamic stretching is walking lunges.
Take a step forward and bend the knee till thigh is parallel to floor and knee is in alignment with ankles. Repeat for the other leg.
How to do Static stretching?
Static stretching is to be done post run. One example is standing quad. Stand with legs together.
Bend your left leg, bringing heel towards the butt. Grasp your left foot with your left hand. Press the shoelaces into your hand. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 mins.
Another example of static stretching is to stand facing the wall with your hands on the wall at chest level. Now place the front ball of your right feet against the wall with the heel touching the floor.
Gently lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf while keeping your legs straight. Hold on for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This is called standing calf.
Practice Good form
According to Aaptiv trainer Rochelle, a runner’s form can affect the way you run and the speed you maintain. Relax shoulders and relax strides and gently lean forward while running.
When we lean forward while running, we can run faster. When one allows himself/herself to fall forward, they are redirecting the force of gravity by rotating around a fixed point. This is called gravitational torque. This is how downward forces of gravity allows your horizontal movements to happen
You need to build strength to support the higher falling angle.
At high speed, the magnitude of interaction with the ground will be greater so the muscles in the body must be developed to support you and keep you upright.
Some Additional Tips to Increase Your Running Speed
- Follow an online training program to help improve your pace. If the budget allows, work with a running coach.
- Purchase good running shoes that give strong arch and ankle support. Due to the advantages of barefoot running, sneakers are getting lighter and lighter to mimic feets natural movement and improve the stride of the feet.
- In the beginning alternate between running or jogging and walking at a comfortable slow pace. Slowly build up.
- Wear light clothes. This will remove the additional weight of cloths.
- Drink plenty of water. keep hydrated for good speed.
- Make sure to fuel up with carbs and proteins in order to have the energy to run.
- Practice change of direction when you run. Play football. That has one running in various directions.
- Lastly, learn how to breathe properly while running. Never hold your breath. That will slow down your speed. Use nose while inhaling and mouth while exhaling to get the maximum amount of oxygen to the muscles.
These techniques and tips will benefit you in more ways than one. Do what you can and if you can’t, take breaks. Make sure you get into the habit of doing something every day to make yourself run faster.
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