If you are looking for methods to boost your speed to the next level, you may be surprised to learn that there are simple ways to run faster that you can teach yourself today.
Speed is critical in almost any sport. Just gritting your teeth and telling yourself to run faster, however, only gets you so far.
Every athlete is familiar with the frustration of kicking hard only to be overtaken by zippy rivals who accelerate toward the horizon. How do they do it?
Likely, above all, they train harder and smarter. Learning how to run faster isn’t always a genetic talent, but hard work.
Here are 5 ways to run faster:
GO AGAINST GRAVITY: HILL TRAINING
Hill training is widely seen as one of the best ways of building running speed. Zero in on a fairly sheer hill that stretches about 100 meters. Run hard to the summit and then catch your breath. Jog back down. Repeat about four times and work your way toward doing seven repeats.
If you cannot find a hill, hit the gym and hop on a treadmill set at an incline. Whether performed indoors or out, the resistance training boosts the muscles in your glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings.
Besides, hill training toughens your Achilles tendons and hip flexors. Essentially, you get a superb all-round running workout you would struggle to match on the flat. Another advantage is that you should not get bored because adding a bump or two to your regimen spells variety.
Just be prepared to suffer a little because hill running is incredibly tough. Expect a pounding pulse and copious sweat.
TIGHTEN YOUR FORM
Check your form. Assess how you look from head to toe, so you can prevent wasting energy. Ensure you look ahead, not down, which sounds easy and obvious, but so many runners try to bowl along while staring at the tarmac or their shoelaces. Chin up! Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Your arms should be swinging back and forward. Your hands should be just lightly clenched. Assuming you just need to do short sprints in your sport, run on the balls of your feet: lean forward, drive hard.
If you are involved in distance running – beyond 100 or 200 meters, it’s a slightly different story. Distance runners run heel-toe because they need to establish sustained stability. For them, running on the balls of their foot would be killing.
Anyway, always focus on form. “Whether you run to keep fit, compete at the Olympics or participate at any level in a multidirectional ball sport you can always improve your running and sprinting technique,” says the BBC.
UP THE TEMPO: INCREASE YOUR STEPS PER MINUTE
Running is a simple business. You have to focus on perfecting the basics. No detail matters more than your “cadence.” Besides being slim and coming from high-altitude zones, the world’s briskest runners have another trademark trait.
They complete more steps per minute than their rivals. Calculate it by checking how many steps you take in 20 seconds with either foot. Multiply by three and you have your cadence. Try zipping along at 90 steps per minute.
If, typically, you plod, that pace should be extremely testing. Once you can sustain the magic cadence, you will be on track to curbing ground contact time and achieving your aim of running faster. See how high you can raise your cadence.
Elite runners like Kenyan-born Bernard Lagat – one of the most-decorated American middle-distance runners ever – achieve a cadence of about 200, or higher. Yes, you read that correctly. As they say, success is a numbers game.
The point that you should lose some pounds may also seem basic, but it is worth making because, naturally, your weight makes a massive difference to the pace you achieve. A lighter frame means you have less weight to drag around, meaning faster running times.
Research shows that, on average, runners get two seconds per mile quicker for every pound they shed: a drastic improvement. So, cut down on simple carbs, which are widely reviled by health fanatics.
Specifically, think about eliminating white bread and white rice, which may well make you pile on the pounds. And watch your alcohol consumption. Alcohol can also insidiously cause you to fatten up. Add more fiber-rich foods to your diet. No snacks when you are not hungry.
Aim to lose about a pound a week – and don’t overdo it, or you will start burning the muscle you need to succeed. An added plus of shedding pounds is that you curb stress on your joints, which means less likelihood of the agonizing aches that dog some runners as they age.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE TIME
With even the most basic cell phones featuring a stopwatch app, it has never been easier to check your personal best. Strive to beat your own time. Once you have logged your initial times, keep those as your minimum times, and apply yourself to outdoing them.
As you raise your game, raise your baseline. Having goals to beat gives you focus and a success-fueling sense of achievement, each time you score a little private victory. If resolving to beat your best time sounds psychological, well, running is an intensely mental process.
Partly, you just shave off those seconds through sheer willpower. The fact that you can measure exactly how successful you have done adds to the thrill. Compete with yourself and you just might win a race or find that you are first to the ball more often in whatever pacey sport you play.
Using a heart rate monitor will increase your ability to monitor how well you’re moving in detail, with scientific accuracy.