This is a guest post by Dan Chaber. Writing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Dan is an entrepreneur, husband and ultramarathon distance runner. He spends most of his time on Runner Click, Monica’s Health Mag, Jane’s Kitchen Miracles & Nicer Shoes and he has been featured on runner blogs all over the world.
Speed is an important aspect of many sports and activities. Whether you’re a runner, a football player, or just a casual sportsman, enhancing your sprint speed can come in very handy. There’s a wide variety of things you can do to improve your running speed.
I’ll take you through some killer tips on how to run faster that will rocket your running speed through the roof:
Practicing Proper Form
This point is often underestimated by runners trying to run faster, when it is in fact a very important factor. The running form can determine the winner of a race, and it can cut off some seconds from your personal record. So, what’s the proper form when running fast?
To get the most out of your sprint, you must keep your head up. Whether you’re in a race or running in a sport, turning your head to look back will simply kill your momentum and reduce your speed.
You’ll never run as fast as you can if your eyes are not looking forward. Plus, you won’t want to smash your face against someone or something that you didn’t see coming.
Another important aspect is your arm swings, with your hands wide open.
Different parts of your body react to motion on other parts; your arms will respond to leg motion and likewise, which is why we instinctively move our arms when running. Make sure you keep your arms swinging not too far from your torso, and try to coordinate your swings with your leg motion for some serious speed.
Remember to keep your hands wide open at all time, closing your hand into a fist will decrease aerodynamics of your body. This might seem silly at first look as you might not reduce much time, but any pro runner will tell you how important is each second.
Lastly, your body inclination also plays an important role in your running form. Instead of assuming the general jogging position, incline your body slightly forward. You don’t want to go too far forward either or you’ll end up slamming against the floor at full speed. Sounds painful, doesn’t it?
A balanced forward posture will allow you to gain a more aerodynamic run, and it helps you maintaining high tempo, enhanced impulse, and proper foot striking.
Adding Weight Training
Long story short, it’s as simple as this: more leg strength will produce stronger impulse; hence you’ll increase your running power and run faster.
It’s a common misconception to believe that weight training will lead to big, heavy legs that will slow you down. This is partially true, but the concept is wrong.
The legs as a pair are the heaviest part of your body; they should normally represent over 55% of a human’s total weight. Weight training your legs will indeed make them bigger and heavier, but it’s not dead weight we’re talking about here. The muscular mass generated through weight training will compensate for that extra leg mass.
Simple examples are the top sportsmen such as Cristiano Ronaldo. He has pretty big legs, but that has never stopped him from being one of the fastest football players in the world.
If you’re worried about the weight of your legs if doing heavy exercise, you can take it to the next level and aim for lean muscle. Gaining lean muscle basically consists of obtaining muscular mass with as little fat as possible.
Weight training can be a double-edged knife, so select a tolerable training plan that suits your level and use adequate weights. Overtraining can leave you on your bed for multiple days, especially when targeting legs.
Exercising your Core
There are other very important muscles that contribute to your running form, endurance, and speed. These would be your core muscles, especially the lower abs if you’re a runner.
The “inner” abs, transversus abdominis, are responsible for stabilizing your spine and your pelvis. When running, your core transmits the power of your legs to your entire body, allowing a motion as powerful as your leg movement.
Think of your body as a spring, which is divided in three parts: top, core, and bottom. Now, if you compress the spring from the top and the bottom at the same time, where does the pressure go? Straight to the core- this is what happens when we jump.
So, what happens when we run?
We’re now compressing the spring strictly from the bottom part; imagine it as pushing the spring against a table. If we release the spring, it will go for a perfect vertical jump, this is because the spring’s core is as strong as its other components, which allows the full power of the compression to go through the core and reach the top. This is what I like to call The Spring Effect.
Back to the human body. If your core isn’t as strong as your legs, it will fail to transmit the full power of your leg motion to your upper body and you’ll lose impulse, as well as stability. When a powerful run hits a weak core, your hips start swinging to the sides generating irregular motions that not only reduce your speed, but also opens your body to injury.
Dr. Michael Fredericson, running analyst, performed a study in which 90% of the subjects (average runners) presented a weak core. Even after mastering a perfect running form and having the strongest legs, these runners wouldn’t be able to get the most out of their sprint.
- Practice your running form
- Don’t skip leg day
- Give your core some action
Over to you now. Any other tips on how to run faster?
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